Local retailers turn to online selling as footfall drops by 31%

Local retailers are going digital to prepare for the ‘golden quarter’ and Christmas trading period by offering online ordering services to their customers, according to digital growth agency, Grofuse.

Grofuse director, Ian Cullen, said: “More and more small retail businesses are considering the addition of click and collect and/delivery services, as in-store trade plummets due to the current Covid-19 situation. Footfall on the UK’s highstreets fell by 31.1% in September and the tightening of restrictions is further impacting retailers’ recovery.”

Mercury Order, an online ordering software as a service (SaaS) developed by Grofuse, is experiencing a high number of enquiries and sign-ups due to the significant shift in consumer behaviour.

“Rather than solely relying on traditional brick and mortar trading, local retail business owners are now embracing sales in other forms – such as click and collect and delivery services. We are seeing a high number of enquiries from various retail businesses such as butchers, bakers, delis and others.

“This year has witnessed upheaval in many businesses operations and retail is no exception. Retailers are now adapting to the ‘new norm’ as demand continues to soar for online shopping.”

According to research published by Econsultancy, 51% of shoppers globally plan to shop locally during the 2020 holiday period and in the lead up to Christmas, while 58% of UK consumers say they’re shopping more online than they did before Covid-19.

British Retail Consortium (BRC) chief executive, Helen Dickinson has said this week (in ‘Retail Gazette’): “Retailers have already invested heavily in safety, compliance and alternative ways to shop, but will need to continue to reassure consumer confidence for shoppers’ journeys to ensure they capitalise on festive sales and, crucially, sales.”

Similar to many larger retailers previously hesitant to embrace e-commerce – such as Marks and Spencer and Lidl – local retailers are now implementing online ordering services to recoup their losses and thrive, while giving customers a convenient and safe way to shop.

Mr Cullen added: “This peak season, the indications are that consumers are likely to shop earlier and less often, and online ordering services will be a viable option for those choosing to stay at home due to local restrictions.”

“As rising case numbers and future restrictions may see a further footfall decline in the coming months – with customers less inclined to queue in the winter weather – we are seeing retailers acting with greater urgency to safeguard their businesses, staff and customers.” Mr Cullen added.