As the high street and non-essential retailers start to open up, it’s crucial that businesses understand what consumers are thinking so they can react accordingly.

Blackhawk Network has conducted a general panel survey with just under 2000 consumers to uncover the nation’s sentiment as we adjust to the new normal. Highlights from the findings include:

  • Close to half (44%) of customers say they will need specific reassurances before they return to non-essential businesses in retail and hospitality, and 39% said they weren’t comfortable returning at all
    • The most important consideration for retailers across the board will be that social distancing will be adhered to, with 47% of consumers looking for this as a specific reassurance
    • Overall, male respondents are 14% more likely to return to high street shops straight away
  • 17% that said they don’t need further reassurance, and would be happy to do the following within a week of restrictions being lifted:
    • Letting a tradesperson in the home (86%), go to a pub/bar (84%) or a cafe/restaurant (83%), followed closely by wanting to go on holiday within the UK (83%), then visiting the highstreet (82%)
  • Almost a quarter (23%) had a negative experience with at least one business during lockdown
    • Nearly half of these (43%) say they are now unlikely to continue using the business post-lockdown
    • 80% are undecided on whether they will continue using the business post-lockdown
  • Only 18% of consumers have seen a company proactively get in touch with some form of gesture for them during lockdown, this could involve a refund for unused goods or services, discounts for key workers or specific marketing incentives etc.

Stephen Choonos, Head of Research at Blackhawk Network, said “Not surprisingly, we’ve seen from our research that the safety measures businesses have in place are top of consumers’ minds when deciding how and when they return to various settings and begin physical interactions. Until social distancing is no longer part of our daily lives, how successfully these measures are implemented in the eyes of customers will be an important contributor to business recovery. The customer experience basics of listening to customers, understanding their experiences and acting on this feedback remain as important as ever during this period.”

Andy Glover, Head of Customer Experience, Places Leisure, said “The team at Blackhawk Network, has transformed our customer insight. And there’s no more important time than now, as we prepare to welcome our customers back to our leisure centres after the lockdown. Ensuring that we’re on the same page with our customers’ expectations, offering them the reassurances they need has never been more important. The team has given us the tools to understand and quickly act on any concerns, and this cannot be underestimated.” 

Renata Doré, who gave a customer viewpoint said “Putting my safety first is absolutely essential for me. I’m heavily pregnant, so I can’t take the risk of going to high street stores that aren’t implementing safety measures seriously. Ideally, the brands I used to go to will be keen to get in touch with me to show how they will be making my shopping experience safer.”

Methodology: Blackhawk Network’s Safety First team surveyed a general panel of 1,729 consumers across the UK. This demonstrates the information that the Safety First surveys can pull. The surveys will be specific to each brand, are a quick and simple way for businesses to check consumer confidence, and check that measures they are putting in place are being correctly implemented giving customers sufficient reassurance.

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Please get in touch for full access to the COVID-19 confidence findings, or happy to arrange a phone briefing with Stephen Choonos if you’d like to discuss the results further.