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NearSt investigates shopping behaviour changes with high street shops under lockdown

Posted on in Cycles News

Since the announcement made by the Prime Minister on the 23rd of March that all non-essential retail must close, shoppers have been forced to change the ways that they shop.

While Google's aggregated location data shows a 46% decline in footfall to UK grocers and pharmacies, people still want to shop in their local stores.

Following on from this, NearSt investigated the trends occuring in their own data.

Traffic to NearSt Shop Pages rose 235% in March

 

 

Visitors to Near.st Shop Pages in March, compared to February (source: medium.com, 2020)


According to NearSt, this rise in traffic to their own pages is most unusual. According to their data, shoppers generally experience NearSt through "Google Local Inventory Ads" and "See What's In Store". Only occasionally do they click through to NearSt Shop Pages for more information about a shop. Most of what they are looking for can be found in Google, which runs on NearSt's data. So why the sudden rise in traffic to the NearSt pages?


What actions are shoppers looking to take?


In addition to the rise in traffic, NearSt also reported clicks on buttons providing additional information dramatically increasing. With three in particular standing out:

  • Searches for in-stock products: ⬆️ 173%
  • Checking opening hours: ⬆️ 494%
  • Calling shops: ⬆️ 598%

All of these are actions that can be completed within Google, but shoppers are taking additional steps to double check that the items they want are definitely available and that the shop is definitely open. From this data, NearSt have concluded that shoppers don't want to risk a wasted visit.

NearSt then compared this growth in traffic against key events, in order to investigate how these events influenced shopper behaviour.

 

 

 

Visitors to Near.st Shop Pages in March, compared to February (source: medium.com, 2020)

 

  • March 13th - Panic buying begins after UK jumps to 200+ daily cases
  • March 16th - Social distancing introduced
  • March 24th - UK lockdown comes into force

In uncertain times shoppers want certainty

March 13th and March 24th both represented moments of increased uncertainty for shoppers.

NearSt have concluded that this data reflects shoppers maintaining a desire to continue using their local high street stores but needing a safe, certain way to do so. Providing both information and a human contact to verify that information helps provide certainty and keeps people shopping.

3 lessons to be learned from this behaviour change

  1. Product availability is essential for shoppers to feel confident in making a shopping trip
  2. Shoppers expect to engage directly with shops much more - whether via email, phone, social media or WhatsApp
  3. Shoppers will quickly expect this additional in-store inventory availability information and shop interaction as the new benchmark

While these are only early signals and the behaviour is very fresh, it gives a view of what the rest of this year could look like.

NearSt believe that the rest of the year is likely to see an increase in customers with targeted shopping journeys, as opposed to shopping as a leisure activity. They also concluded that tools like Google ‘See What's In Store' and ‘Local Inventory Ads' will likely become more important to get local shoppers into shops.

Find out more how you can use NearSt's retail technology to drive footfall to your store.

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