As uncertainty surrounding the fate of big British high street names continues, new research from Groupon reveals the most pressing issues facing local retailers. Four in 10 (40%) independent retailers don’t have a dedicated website, and shockingly 97% don’t have a dedicated app for their store.
The research also shows a stark contrast between the opinion of local businesses and consumers. Almost two thirds (60%) of shoppers in the UK are worried about the post-Brexit future of their local high street and over a third (39%) say they’ve noticed many local businesses start to close since Brexit was announced. However, these figures differ greatly with nearly three-quarters (71%) of local retailers who say they have no specific concerns or feel positive about the future of their business in a post-Brexit economy.
The research, which questioned 2,010 shoppers and 1,000 local business decision makers nationwide, also found that over half of local retailers (59%) say they have no plans to adapt their strategy for the UK’s eventual departure from the EU in March 2019. This may be cause for significant concern in light of wider independent research which suggests that local businesses will be hit hardest by Brexit disruption.
Businesses aren’t prepared to capitalise on the opportunity
Despite a strong consumer appetite, independent retailers say the biggest challenges they face are competing with big chain retailers (40%), retaining local customers (38%), and competing with online/app/mobile commerce (35%). But given that three fifths (57%) of all independent retailers say they’ve never had loyalty scheme and don’t plan to implement one; and over a quarter (26%) admit they’ve no strategy in place for attracting new customers, these figures may come as no surprise. With local retailers calculating that over half (58%) of their customers are locals and over half (59%) of their revenues are made from local custom, they are undoubtedly missing a missing an opportunity to grow and retain this crucial audience.
Consumers want to shop locally provided they are rewarded for their loyalty
Currently, shoppers are still spending significantly more money at large chains rather than local stores on average each week – £42.70 vs. £10.60 respectively. But all is not lost as consumers say they do want to support local businesses, with almost half (47%) saying it’s important for them to shop locally. Consumers in Northern Ireland (65%) and Yorkshire and Humberside (58%) are the keenest to do so.
Overall, shoppers say they are passionate about their local independent businesses because they like their proximity to their home (43%), the way they make their community unique (74%) and want to improve their local economy (47%). Over a third (41%) of shoppers say they would be more likely to shop local if a loyalty scheme was on offer, but that currently many local businesses don’t provide them (14%) or promotional discounts (18%).
Jon Wilson, MD at Groupon UK, says: “Over three quarters of Brits support their local businesses as it makes their community unique; and in an age of lookalike high streets, it’s more important than ever for the small businesses up and down the country to capitalise on this. In light of the potential post-Brexit economic shift; it’s heartening to know that British shoppers have a firm desire to support local businesses.”
“Our research suggests that while some local businesses are proactively exploring how to capitalise on these opportunities, an alarmingly large proportion aren’t. Working with Groupon is one of many tools local businesses can use to stay ahead of an ever-changing landscape, enabling businesses to attract and retain new and existing customers. This is the only way to ensure the local high street is able to withstand any choppy waters which may lay ahead.”