Since the beginning of 2020, retailers and business owners across the country have faced lockdowns, trading restrictions, and other impacts of the pandemic that have caused a dramatic loss of income. Studies show that high streets throughout the UK saw the closure of over 11,000 retail outlets, however,t funding and grants from the government have managed to slow the loss of businesses by 11%.
This monetary small business support meant that closure rates weren’t quite as bad as originally predicted, but as the pandemic continues, it’s likely that we still haven’t seen the full impact of COVID-19 on the high street and other areas of the local economy.
City centres have seen the worst of the closures so far, with unit vacancies reaching a high of 16.1%. This is higher than any other type of retail location, as villages and smaller towns have seen more resilience. Throughout the UK, across all types of retail outlet locations, the British Retail Consortium reported that 2020 saw a drastic decline of 77.8% when compared to the year before.
It’s not just small and medium-sized businesses that are seeing these changes and the negative impact they bring. Many large retail chains have closed during the pandemic, with entire department store brands such as Debenhams closing and the likes of John Lewis closing certain outlets.
Consumer patterns and shopping behaviour is rapidly changing because of the pandemic, and retailers are struggling to keep up. The number of changes that are taking place would usually happen over 10 years, but retailers are experiencing it within only 12 months. With lockdowns easing and shops seeing a reduced risk of enforced closures, consumer purchasing behaviour will likely change even more.
It’s now time to focus on encouraging consumers to return to the high street and to do so, all business owners must work together to create powerful marketing campaigns.
Retailers will know that no matter the size of their business, the success is largely due to marketing. You need to ensure customers are being made aware of your services or products, and that they find what you’re offering appealing. There are plenty of ways to market your business with a low investment to ensure your efforts deliver high returns.
There are many small business marketing ideas that encompass a wide range of strategies including offers and promotions. Some retailers consider this a costly option, but when done correctly, it can be at a minimal expense to you – or sometimes even done for free. You can use free platforms like social media to promote your newest promotions.
Once you’ve encouraged customers to visit your business and make their first purchase, it’s important to give them a reason to return. Email marketing is highly beneficial when it comes to encouraging customer loyalty, and with the right fine-tuning, you’ll see a huge increase in customer retention levels. 80% of small to medium businesses use email marketing as their primary customer retention strategy.
Collecting email addresses for retail marketing can be an issue and can be costly to you if physical sign-up sheets require manual input. However, with a customer loyalty rewards scheme in place, you’ll have an automated database of email addresses to work from.
You can also use customer loyalty card systems as a small business marketing technique in its own right. This is often more effective when used in conjunction with other retailers on the same high street.
Regional Loyalty For An Economic Growth
City or town regional loyalty cards can help boost the local economy massively. They reward consumers for shopping in their local area and offer a way to sustainably support businesses as they recover from the effects of the pandemic. Loyalty rewards also help enterprises to grow, using customer data collected from each retailer’s loyalty account. Shop owners can optimise their marketing strategy for their retail outlet whilst increasing sales at the same time.
As the high streets begin to recover post-pandemic, the UK government has announced funding to help businesses bring customers back and retain them long-term. This support has been allocated to local authorities, and many are choosing to implement customer loyalty scheme marketing in the areas under their jurisdiction.
From a consumer perspective, having a mix of large and independent retail businesses is a huge benefit. Customers can visit for one thing and end up completing their entire shopping list in only one place, as they’re likely to spend more time browsing and purchasing from shops where they can use a single convenient loyalty card.
It’s also a benefit for large high street retail chains, as loyalty rewards generate positive publicity. Many consumers are opting to support independent, family-run small businesses during the pandemic, and if large brands and retailers are seen to be supporting small businesses, they will deservedly earn a good reputation amongst consumers – leading to positive publicity and sales.
Some government funding has an end date, but Reward-It’s regional loyalty programme makes it easy for seamless continuation. The local authority doesn’t need to promise any additional fees as our UK-based team will work directly with each retailer to come up with a solution that suits them, including loyalty, gift cards, and any digital integrations that they may require. Any customers that were a member of the scheme will remain unaffected.