Falling in love with local
According to recent data from the analysts Kantar, it is small local shops and online retailers that have most benefited from changes in consumer behaviour during lockdown. In the three months to 17 May, the independently owned retailers surveyed saw sales increase at more than double the pace of the fastest-growing grocery chain. We have been turning to our local shops in ever greater numbers, with the same research finding that corner shops and independent grocery stores have experienced a 63% rise in trade.
A witness to this shift in shopping habits is Jackie Mulligan, founder of the digital platform ShopAppy.com, which allows consumers to connect with their local high street online. She says this shift towards shopping locally was initially driven by practicalities.
“The sea change that we saw at the beginning of lockdown was a result of the big superstores being unable to give people delivery slots and people didn’t feel safe going into those stores,” says Mulligan. As a result, there was a sudden discovery of local shops, she says.
ShopAppy.com itself experienced a huge growth in customer registrations as people looked for new ways to shop for groceries and essential goods. Over time, these same customers have begun to look for other products too, with gifts and even art becoming more popular. Mulligan says that two-thirds of artists who participated in this year’s online version of a local Makers’ Fair made sales.
Furthermore, these new customers are discovering that the local stores have a lot to offer. “They’re reporting that they couldn’t believe how good the fruit and veg was,” says Mulligan, adding that customers have also been wowed by the prices and lack of packaging.