Brits stay loyal to local retailers

Research finds over 60% of shoppers have a long running relationship with their local store, with many preferring the personal touch they offer over supermarket shopping

Brits stay loyal to local retailers

The media is often filled with reports on the state of Blighty’s beleaguered high streets, with supermarkets and the internet often blamed for spiriting customers away. But it seems it’s with local retailers that most consumers’ loyalty lies; according to new research Brits are most likely to stay loyal to their local hairdressers, newsagents and butchers.

The high street survey, produced by AXA Business Insurance, found that customers enjoyed a more personal relationship with their local retailers. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, over 60% have a long-running relationship with their local store and 30% said they enjoyed the long-term relationship they had built with their favourite local business. In comparison, 88% of shoppers have a much more fickle relationship with big supermarkets, admitting they aren’t always loyal to one brand. According to the survey, a better deal elsewhere would change 64% of consumers’ shopping preferences and 25% would switch if a different chain was built closer to where they lived or worked.

It seems shoppers also like having a personal relationship with staff at local businesses, with 25% admitting they liked knowing their venders by name and 18% being so committed to their local they saw staff as friends. Additionally, 20% said they also liked being able to order the ‘usual’. When staff at big supermarkets have attempted to make a similar connection, it has typically not been received so sincerely with 51% finding it false if a cashier asked about their day.

The high street survey also looked at the kinds of businesses shoppers feel most loyal to, with hairdressers, newsagents and butchers topping the list. Consumers’ relationships with their stylists was so strong that 45% said they knew details of their private life, such as health, relationships and even if they were trying for a baby. Book shops, fishmonger, clothes store and bakers also featured high on the list.

Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance, said: “The struggle that small business owners face when up against big chains is well documented in the media. Yet our poll showed that despite continuous change and a fiercely competitive market place, personal connections and a sense of community still influence the way we shop. 

When independent retailers emotionally engage with customers and effectively meet their wants and needs, they are able to build loyal relationships that go on for decades.”

Clearly then, despite claims that supermarkets are draining the life out of our high streets, there is still plenty of room for local businesses to make their mark. 

Jess Mackinnon
Jess Mackinnon

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