Monday 15 June 2020 7:08 pm

DEBATE: Are shoppers ready to go back?

Georgina Nelson is chief executive and founder of TruRating
and Cas Paton
Cas Paton is founder and managing director of OnBuy

Are Brits really ready to go back to the shops?

Georgina Nelson, chief executive and founder of TruRating, says YES.

While it would be hard to argue that there won’t be some degree of caution as non-essential retail opens its doors again this week, from the evidence we’ve seen, there is a desire to get back to stores.

In a recent poll over 20,000 UK customers, we found that 76 per cent were positive about shops reopening, with 20 per cent rating themselves as excited. Compared to US consumers (40 per cent excited) however, there does appear to be a little more reticence from the Brits.  

In various markets where restrictions have eased — including Australia and New Zealand — year-on-year spend is up 50 per cent per shop. This shows that, when customers do feel safe, there’s a healthy appetite to shop, which is good news for retailers and our economy. 

So how is that sense of safety achieved? One major US retailer found that 97 per cent of customers said that new cleaning procedures made them feel safe. 

Businesses will have to re-earn their customers’ trust — and being proactive here will be incredibly important during these first days back.

Read more: Shops reopen to long queues as social distancing measures come into force

Cas Paton, managing director of OnBuy, says NO.

A recent survey from has found that more than 70 per cent of shoppers won’t return to the shops just yet. Indeed, 67 per cent were incredibly uneasy at the thought of visiting a shopping centre, while 54 per cent were outright opposed to shops reopening, concerned that they have perhaps opened too soon — especially as many Brits are disgruntled that they can legally return to shops before seeing their immediate family without social distancing measures. 

It also seems that shoppers are less likely to now “pop” to the shops as we used to do, as only 21 per cent said they would do so now as restrictions are eased.

If the industry wants to encourage shoppers to return, retailers should leverage the technology available and make it clear that they are taking steps to help keep people safe.

For example, retailers can use technology to monitor crowds and oversee how many customers should be in a shop at once, taking into consideration the size, number of floors and spacing between aisles, to assess and flag whether the shop is safe.

Read more: High street footfall jumps 50 per cent as shops reopen for business

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.