Inadequate or non existent social distancing signage can reduce footfall by 50%, Industry research shows.
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Although the Office for National Statistics confirmed UK retail sales rose 2% in July compared to June, with non-food sales jumping 10%, they still remain below their pre-virus level. The recovery in retail is undoubtedly patchy and although fears of rising unemployment are impacting on expenditure the biggest constraint is the public’s reluctance to shop due to concerns over covid.
With the easing of retail lockdown, the vast majority of high street and out of town retail parks are now open, but many establishments continue to struggle to attract customers. The key to understanding why some retailers are performing better than others appears to be connected to the public’s confidence that they are entering a safe environment.
According to an independent pan-European study commissioned by wide-format printer manufacturer Roland DG, consumer confidence plays a large part in an individual store’s performance, with its study highlighting that 80% of UK consumers are more likely to visit stores that have clear social distancing graphics.
“Retailers need to increase consumer footfall, and effective signage plays a vital role in giving shoppers the confidence to visit stores,” said Jerry Davies, managing director of Roland DG UK.
“But the data shows that most businesses are clearly not giving it enough attention. Stores that fail to prioritise Covid-19 signage will continue to see shoppers stay away.”
According to an online study by research company Censuswide, 40% of UK respondents also said that they had stopped visiting stores that had unclear signage.
Roland DG said the research, which polled just over 2,500 European consumers, including 500 from the UK, highlighted the reputational damage retailers risk with weak Covid signage, with 40% of UK shoppers saying that it indicated “businesses are not taking their safety seriously enough”.
The study found that the stores with the most unclear signage are clothes shops (according to 21% of respondents), supermarkets and grocery stores (19%) and restaurants and bars (16%).
It also reported that younger shoppers, those aged between 16 to 34, were most likely to be influenced by in-store signage, with 54% reporting that they had stopped using stores with poor social distancing signage and 78% saying they were more likely to visit a shop with clear signage.
“There’s a big opportunity for brands to use signage to differentiate themselves and rebuild shopper confidence - and print businesses have a critical role to play in educating retail customers of the power of effective, directional signage,” said Davies.
To this end we at Entwistle Group have been helping our customers to achieve effective social distancing signage but it has been much bigger undertaking than we at first thought. Very early on we realised we would have to design a wide range of social distancing signs to meet extremely diverging requirements.
According to Jason Richard’s, Entwistle Groups MD “When PHE (Public Health England) started releasing advice it quickly dawned on us that our customers would be phoning us up asking for social distancing signage. Normally we welcome the phone ringing and orders being placed but we suddenly realised we would have to design a range of social distancing signage rather than printing files our customers have sent to us!
This presented the next problem - our extremely wide and divergent customer base:
Trying to design social distancing signs to meet the needs of everyone was no small task. From the outset we knew we wanted to get the designs online.
“As the designs started to take shape we very quickly realised we needed to get them online so customers could see them. This saved our sales team a lot of time having to send out individual PDF files to customers. Then as our range of designs grew we decided to do a first for our print side of the business, we made the pages transactional.”
This turned out to be inspired decision not just because of the efficiency gains of customers ordering online at a time when 95% of our staff were furloughed but because it opened up our range to a whole new customers base – anyone searching the internet to order social distancing signage.
Despite offering an enormous range of social distancing signage covering we were surprised to find that 95% of sales have been for floor decals.
Our floor decal designs have been a huge success but the impact of Covid on the rest of our business has been and continues to be profound. We would rather business and society was as usual just as I’m sure all our customers would prefer not to be buying floor decals…..