The pandemic and the associated lockdown measures have had an enormously damaging effect on the Welsh economy, and the retail sector has been particularly badly effected. With Welsh shoppers being physically prevented from visiting brick-and-mortar stores, they’ve been forced instead to look to online alternatives. The effect on an already ailing high street has been little short of disastrous.
As the phased relaxation of the lockdown measures unfolds across the country, shoppers have flooded back into town centres. According to Springboard, a retail consultant, footfall was around 16% lower in Cardiff than the same date in 2019 – suggesting that some shoppers are still hesitant to come back. This reluctance will likely persist for a while to come.
Around half of the population in Wales has been given their first dose of the vaccine, and nearly 20% are fully vaccinated. When you consider just the older sections of the population, this figure rises to 60%.
What Rules are Businesses Implementing?
Stores in Wales are taking a cautious approach when it comes to allowing customers back into stores. The Welsh Retail Consortium has outlined a number of steps which customers should follow in order that the rollout proceed as smoothly and safely as possible. These include steps like wearing face coverings, following hygiene measures, and shopping alone.
“While we expect an initial surge in spending when shops first open, the real test will be how this holds up,” said Sara Jones, the Head of the WRC. “Everyone should be considerate and respectful to their fellow shoppers and hard-working shop staff. This way we can all enjoy shopping and support our local communities.”
How can Businesses Lure Customers Back?
Businesses who’ve managed to retain a loyal base of customers throughout the lockdown are likely to have an easier time encouraging people back into their stores. Here’s where the role of a community of customers can be critical. Among the more powerful tools that brands have when it comes to bringing customers back is a well thought-out loyalty program.
Business might provide customers not only with a financial incentive to come back early on; they might do so while keeping things safe by providing rewards in the form of credit – so that footfall can be effectively spread over a longer period of time. For example, a spa business might offer vouchers for spa treatments several months down the line, in exchange for immediate custom. Businesses will also enjoy the more immediate benefits of a program of this sort, including customer retention, increased customer lifetime value, and deeper and more lasting personal relationships. It might be that the new beginning presents a chance to do something a little bit diffierently!