Bank Holidays to bring a ‘Spring in the step’ for retailers – Gekko

Battersea-power-station-shopping-mall ©Mark-Johnson-mediashotz

As the UK heads towards the spring and with more bank holidays due, millions of consumers have revealed they are planning to go shopping on the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekends.

These shoppers are more likely than ever to do this with friends and combine shopping with other leisure pursuits.

These are some of the findings of a new research report commissioned by creative customer experience marketing agency Gekko and carried out by YouGov.

The survey of 2,000 consumers reveals that 13% (nine million) are definitely planning to hit the physical shops and this rises to 18% of 18-34 year olds, presenting retailers with a meaningful opportunity for sales uplift.

Actual shopping: We’re keen to get back to physical shops after two years of lockdowns.

Gekko’s survey follows Wednesday’s Spring budget in which UK Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, said the Office for Budget Responsibility reported positive economic news with a recession having been averted and inflation falling.

The Gekko survey found that shopping is the fourth most popular Bank Holiday activity (12%) behind going for a walk, (45%) visiting family and friends (41%) and going out for a meal (25%).

Around 19% of respondents also revealed they are likely to spend more on a Bank Holiday weekend than an ordinary weekend, equating to 13 million people.

The most popular sectors for retail visits are home improvement (DIY, garden centre) at 22%, fashion (21%), homeware/ home furnishings (16%) and department stores, 14%.

Gekko_March 2023_IG

The sociable modern retail experience

The survey also revealed more about the modern retail experience and what shoppers are expecting from their visits to High Streets and Malls. Interestingly, retail is increasingly a sociable experience, especially for younger shoppers.

Some 45% of people combine shopping with a meal out, (rising to 53% of 35 – 44 year olds) and 30% with meeting a friend for a coffee/ drinks (rising to 40% of 25-34 year olds). Meanwhile, 55% of us prefer shopping for the home with family and friends versus 39% who do it solo.

Eating out: More of us plan to grab a bite while out shopping this spring.

Moreover, 60% cite a pleasant retail environment as an important factor in a great retail experience with a marked split between women and men (67% v 53%).

And 59% want to see promotions, while 42% want to be able to engage with knowledgeable shop staff.

The top reason given for for in person shopping versus online is to try before you buy (47%).

The opportunity for physical retailers to play to their strengths here is huge, with this 47% equating to £233bn in spending based on 2022’s retail sales.

Retailers urged to transform their thinking

On the back of the findings, Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko, is urging retailers to transform their thinking about retail and how to encourage customers instore.

“Our research clearly indicates that we are seeing a real trend toward retail as leisure” Todoro said.

“After two years of lockdowns, largely working from home and deliveries, shoppers appreciate the benefits of a good physical retail experience.

“This is underpinned by sociability, combining a trip with meeting friends and dining. Retailers and brands need to complement this by providing an enticing and human-centred experience.”

He continued: “Too often we are seeing a rather nonchalant approach and attention given to customers which equates to potential lost opportunities. Retailers must think creatively about how to enhance the customer experience.

“A great environment, attentive and knowledgeable staff is more important than just focusing on promotions.

“With a potential audience of millions on the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekends, retailers can champion the timeless values of a good retail experience to enhance the customer journey.”