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March footfall bodes well for 12 April reopening; IKEA’s plans for store traffic; Boots using mobile to keep in-store staff safe; offers need to be consistent across channels

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Is the High Street set for boom? (Image: AdobeStock)
Is the High Street set for boom? (Image: AdobeStock)

Retail is set to reopen on Monday: here we look at how March's footfall bodes well for bounce back; what IKEA and Boots have in store for in-store

With the latest UK lockdown set to be lifted on Monday, footfall figures from March indicate that there is likely to be a strong retail bounceback – and a number of retailers are already sharing their plans as to how this will look. Here we round up the key events as retail prepares to reopen.


Continued pent up demand for bricks & mortar retail provides optimism for a bounce back from 12 April – Springboard

In March 2021, retail footfall appeared to recover strongly to an annual decline of -28.1% from -61% in February 2021, however, this was distorted by the anniversary of Lockdown 1 falling in the penultimate week of the month.


In comparison with 2019 footfall in March was -55.2% lower than in March 2019.


So finds the latest footfall figures from Springboard, which suggests that pent up demand from shoppers for bricks and mortar stores was ever more evident in the results for March 2021, with footfall strengthening over the month in all three destination types.


In high streets the annual decline moved from -65.9% in week 1 to -58.4% by the final week of the month, in shopping centres it moved from -69% to -62.5% and in retail parks it virtually halved from -29.8% in week 1 to just -14.8% by the final week.


This further supports Springboard’s forecast for a significant uplift in footfall when non-essential retail opens on 12th April 2021, anticipated to be around +48% in the first week from the week before followed by a further rise of +10% in the second week.


Footfall is likely to continue to rise over the following weeks following 12th April but probably at a slightly slower rate as shoppers look forward to dining out following the reopening of indoor hospitality on 17th May


“This further supports Springboard’s forecast for a significant uplift in footfall when non-essential retail opens on 12th April 2021, anticipated to be around +48% in the first week from the week before followed by a further rise of +10% in the second week,” says Diane Wehrle, Marketing & Insights Director at Springboard. “Footfall is likely to continue to rise over the following weeks but probably at a slightly slower rate as shoppers look forward to dining out following the reopening of indoor hospitality on 17th May.”


IKEA outlines steps to keep shoppers safe and salutes changes made during lockdown

Home-furnishing retailer IKEA has announced that stores across England and Wales will reopen on Monday 12th April, along with Click and Collect in Northern Ireland. This follows the reopening of its stores in Scotland on Monday 5th April.


Ahead of welcoming customers back once again, IKEA will continue to implement a series of stringent and enhanced safety measures to ensure the safety and comfort of co-workers and customers wanting to shop in-store. These measures include on-site temperature checks for co-workers, enhanced social distance guidance and signage throughout and a staggered entry system and limited numbers of customers granted entry in store at any one time.


Social distance wardens to help customers and ensure everyone is following social distancing measures and additional hand sanitiser facilities and more frequent deep cleaning routines for bags, trolleys, bathrooms, rest areas, equipment and touchscreens. Cashless payments, by card and contactless, will be preferred and all play areas and the customer restaurant to remain closed.


Despite store closures, the pandemic has also proven to be a catalyst for positive change for the retailer. To help cater to new shopping behaviours, a number of initiatives were introduced to enable IKEA to meet its customers in more ways than ever before, including rolling out Click and Collect in all its stores, ‘Click and Deliver’ to 4,000 DPD drop off points nationwide and the use of stores as local fulfilment and distribution centres, to increase capacity and reduce delivery lead times.


The retailer also introduced remote kitchen, wardrobe and living room storage planning appointments, ensuring customers could still access IKEA’s home furnishing expertise. A new remote interior design service offering expert advice and bespoke plans from the comfort of your home from £65 per room


Peter Jelkeby, UK&IE Country CEO and CSO comments: “Changes made over the past year will be vital for securing the future success of our business, as we continue our ambition to create a better everyday life for the many people. Throughout the course of the pandemic, our co-workers have demonstrated incredible resilience and willingness to find our way through the crisis to help meet the needs of our customers in new ways. I am incredibly thankful to them for all they have accomplished.”


Boots uses mobile to digitise in-store process to keep staff safe

Boots is rolling out a mobile-first platform for task management, communication and training, designed specifically for frontline teams across all 2500 of its stores ahead of reopening as it looks to digitise as much of its store process as possible.


Using YOOBIC, Boots store colleagues will be able to complete their tasks such as weekly checklists, safety logbooks and merchandising execution, digitally through the platform. This digitised task management will provide real-time feedback and visibility on task execution to regions and support offices, helping store teams to work more efficiently whilst ensuring a safe and reliable shopping experience for customers.


Fabrice Haiat, CEO and co-founder of YOOBIC, says: “We are delighted to have been chosen by a prestigious brand like Boots. We are really excited to work with them to assist their digitisation processes and help them to support their teams to be more efficient every day.”


Promo offers need to be consistent across channels when shops reopen: report

With non-essential retail in the UK due to reopen on 12 April, retailers and brands risk eroding trust and losing revenue without a cohesive strategy that delivers consistent promotions across each channel during the consideration and purchase journey.


Original research of 2,000 UK consumers in the Promotions at the Speed of Demand report from omni-channel promotion solutions provider, XCCommerce, reveals that prior to lockdown 62% of consumers indicated discounts and promotions differed based on where they were shopping, with 37% saying their biggest irritation was when in-store promotions couldn’t be found online. 44% of consumers saying retailers don’t join the dots when offering promotions and discounts in-store and online.


"As retail in the UK reopens and the customer channel mix continues to shift to reflect greater access to physical as well as digital shopping, the key to success with promotions is consistency," explains Robin Coles, EMEA MD at XCCommerce. "The brand, offer, price, language, and redemption mechanism must not be fragmented across each of these channels. If they are, it’s likely retailers will lose the customer very quickly, particularly if the workload in piecing things together rests upon the shopper alone.”


Coles continues: “But there are challenges involved in implementing cross-channel promotions into organisations’ overall strategies and operations. Retailers are finding that these don’t integrate easily with their multiple sales applications, making it next to impossible to properly leverage the full capabilities of complex promotion strategies.”


Once in-store, 30% of customers cite delays at till points when processing promotions as their biggest grievance with the knock-on effect that footfall in stores, already under threat, falls even further because of poor customer experience.


“The solution to creating and executing coherent cross-channel promotions is actually relatively simple. It requires a level of automation that enables retailers to build promotions around customer behaviour and preferences and execute and manage them across channels generating a higher return on investment while increasing customer loyalty and lifetime value,” comments Coles.

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