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2020-07-02

Consumers concerned about shopper safety during Covid-19 pandemic

Consumers are not just concerned about pricing when it comes to shopping, they are also concerned about the measures taken by retailers to ensure shopper safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Edward West | IOL

This was according to a consumer insights report published yesterday (wed) by BrandsEye, which analysed BrandsEye’s social media data and the consumer survey data of the Bonsella rewards programme. 

This data was used to assess shifts in buying habits and what were found to be significant consumer priorities during the pandemic.

Bonsella is a consumer rewards programme in 150 independent retailers across South Africa. The programme rewards customers with instant airtime to their mobile phones.

BrandsEye chief executive Nic Ray said in a statement: “Since the lockdown, complaints about retailers have focused on Covid-19 issues such as price changes, stockouts, and store hygiene. And while pricing is unsurprisingly consumers’ chief concern in deciding where to shop, across all income groups, people are acutely aware of the safety and health measures retailers are taking around Covid-19.”

“These measures are influencing where people are deciding to do their shopping,” said Ray.

The majority of shoppers surveyed wanted Covid-19 safety protocols implemented by retailers.

Social media conversations about branch or store physical safety had the second-largest increase during lockdown, increasing by 11.7 points, and complaints about it increased by 13.5 points.

Shoppers expected retailers to adhere to social distancing measures and took to social media to praise those that met their expectations and criticise those that did not.

Some 39.1 percent of customers said the main reasons why they shopped at their primary store was due to Covid-19 safety measures and store sanitation.

Social distancing at checkout-tills was the most desired in-store Covid-19 safety measure mentioned by 70.7 percent of those surveyed.

This was followed by shoppers wearing masks (68.5 percent) and staff wearing masks (57.6 percent).

Retail Engage chief executive Andrew Weinberg, chief executive of Retail Engage, which owns the Bonsella brand, said there had been a big shift in consumer adoption to health precautions in stores, over the past three months.

Most stores implemented the appropriate health and safety measures quite quickly, resulting in continued support of the stores.

Some 81.5 percent of surveyed shoppers chose their primary store based on price, followed by specials and sales (52.2 percent).  

On social media, affordability and changes in pricing were conversation topics that had the largest increases during the lockdown.

Consumers took to digital channels to complain about price-hikes in particular, leading to a 14.7 point increase in complaints about changes in pricing and an 11.6 point increase in complaints about competition and price-fixing.

Since lockdown began, consumers had made less frequent visits to shops, but were spending more per visit.

Some survey respondents said they had been purchasing groceries in larger quantities to decrease the number of visits made to the shops, while others did so because of concern over stock-outs and forthcoming price hikes.

BUSINESS REPORT



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