I’ve kept away from everyone for weeks. I’ve had my food shopping delivered and taken early morning or evening walks. I’ve crossed the road when passing people in the street and waited pressed against walls in narrow alleyways. I haven’t been able to see my extended family and I’ve waved at my friends from a distance. Recently I have met up with friends for walks or sits in the park – keeping our distance – but I’ve not been able to hug them hello or goodbye.
I didn’t go to the pubs when they opened, I was unsure about mixing with other people again. I’m desperate to get my hair cut, but I’m worried about sitting so close to others, even with masks on.
All the shops are open, and I feel maybe it’s time to get out there again, but it makes me anxious to read that the public are not always respecting social distancing rules, or wearing masks.
I really want to support local businesses, I see how hard it is especially for small traders. But is it worth my health? I’m worried. Can I shop safely?
Well? Can they?
This is the reality for many of your customers right now. It’s going to take some work to convince a lot of your customers to return, and it’s going to take some organisation to ensure that those that do respect the guidelines.
Let’s be honest. You have a battle on your hands if you are to encourage people away from the safety of the internet and back onto the high street. But…you have one thing in your favour. People are desperate to return to normal. Well, a ‘new normal’.
They want to come back.
They want to shop again.
They just need some reassurance.
They need to be able to trust you.
So…you’re going to have to spend time and money on a two-step approach.
- You’ll need to ensure that your retail environment is a safe place to shop, with signage and pointers to make your rules completely clear.
- You’ll need to reach out to your customers and let them know they will be looked after in your store.
With the recent introduction of compulsory masks in stores from the 24th July, it’s not going to be easy. But if you provide customers with an environment they feel comfortable in, they will be back. And they will tell their friends and other prospective shoppers too.
So keep sending out those Covid 19-update newsletters and keep posting positive social media photos and news. Rethink and reimagine your store layout and make sure your signage is comprehensive. Train your staff thoroughly and keep them protected too.
And above all, keep hanging in there; it’s a ‘new’ normal, but it’s the only one we’ve got for now. Embrace it and your business will slowly rejuvenate. Fight it, and you can only lose.