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Understanding the impacts of COVID-19 on shopping behaviours

In this ‘new world’ where things are changing by the hour, omnidata intelligence company Skyfii, has partnered with leading customer insights firm Brickfields Consulting to help the retail property industry better understand and react to changes in shopper sentiment during these challenging times. The partnership includes joint investment in a nationwide survey of 800 Australian shoppers across major metropolitan areas.

This first-of-its-kind nationwide survey on retail property shopper confidence collects accurate customer and tenant sentiment regarding the recent changes, helping property owners to reduce risk and seize future opportunities as they arise. It’s only by knowing exactly what people are thinking and feeling, can we make meaningful responses.

The results of the survey measure the impact of COVID-19 on shopper sentiment towards where they shop. The report has been published online and is free to download.

Top insights from the report include:

  1. The most negative aspect of visiting a shopping centre was attributed to the numbers of other people, i.e. crowding – To counter negative perceptions of overcrowding, it’s recommended retail venues cap or limit the total number of customers allowed inside at any one time. This would provide spacing between customers and a feeling of reassurance that risks are being minimised.
  2. Lack of availability of products and personnel was the second most significant detraction from visiting a retail centre – this issue can be addressed through a range of automated and manual methods, whether through online inventory or more manual methods of customer enquiries about stock availability and replenish dates.
  3. Offering a home delivery service (either face to face at 1.5 metres or contactless) were the two most preferred methods when not visiting a shopping centre – Landlords would be wise to establish an online portal and delivery services which combine the stock from all smaller retailers. There is a convenience benefit to combining one order across multiple retailers – not to mention the reduction in risk through unnecessary exposure.

As the situation around COVID-19 rapidly evolves, retail property owners have been forced to make quick decisions, with limited data on the impact to their tenants and shoppers. By gathering high-quality data and insights on shoppers, this survey aims to provide the retail property industry with insights they can use to support their tenants, and adjust their operations and communications strategies to the changing needs of their shoppers in the wake of COVID-19.

“Skyfii has the privilege of working with the large majority of the Australian retail property sector in Australia and we have witnessed first hand the impact that COVID-19 has had on shopper visitation and behaviour. In our efforts to support the industry, we have teamed up with Brickfields Consulting to measure the rapidly changing behaviour of shoppers, their future spending habits and visitation patterns. Whilst the shock of COVID-19 is all too apparent today, how large public venues, and in particular shopping centres, respond to the change in shopper behaviour will help to fast-track the recovery.”  said John Rankin, COO, Skyfii.

As the situation is evolving on a daily basis, Skyfii & Brickfields will be conducting monthly updates of the research to understand the latest perceptions and track the recovery. Subscribing to these monthly updates is the easiest way of keeping in control of the changing situation.

“We’re not just looking at the current impact of COVID-19. We’re trying to help the retail property sector understand how the actions they take now and in the future can impact customer loyalty and brand sentiment in the medium to long term.” said David Grant, Managing Director at Brickfields Consulting.

 Skyfii and Brickfields Consulting provide research, strategy, technology, and data science expertise to many of the most recognisable brands in the retail property industry.

About the author

Shopping Centre News

Shopping Centre News (SCN) is in the ‘information business’, and is perceived as such by its readers. Daily industry news makes a must-visit as part of the morning routine for those who want to keep right across the latest retail developments and events, while SCN's premium magazine is the leading publication for the shopping centre industry in Australia and New Zealand.

Known as the ‘industry bible’ SCN is printed five times a year with fascinating, in-depth features and important critical analysis written by known industry insiders as well as the popular ‘Guns’ reports, which ranks Australian shopping centre performances. Shopping Centre News is the only publication in the world that features centre statistics on Turnover, Turnover per square metre and Specialty Shop turnover per square metre for every major centre in Australia.

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