Procurement · 7 October 2015

UK shoppers stay loyal to local retailers over big supermarkets

Fishmongers, greengrocers and butchers are missed by many when they disappear from high streets
Fishmongers, greengrocers and butchers are missed by many when they disappear from high streets

The majority of UK shoppers are loyal to their local stores and are much more fickle when it comes to big supermarkets.

A survey of 2,000 adults by AXA Business Insurance found that over 60 per cent of the nation’s consumers have long-running relationships with their local stores, with a quarter of customers saying they like knowing their vendors by name, while a fifth liked the familiarity of being able to order “the usual” when shopping locally.

Of the businesses with loyal customers, hairdressers came up top, with 55 per cent of people saying they were committed to the same stylist, while nearly half said their hairdresser knew details of their private lives – from family gossip to health issues.

The personal connection aspect had a big role to play, with nearly a fifth of shoppers saying they were so committed to their favourite shops, they saw the staff as friends. Customers also liked independent retailers for the benefits they bring to the local area – with 73 per cent agreeing they add more character to a place, and 17 per cent saying local shops were prettier than the big chains.

More than half enjoyed feeling they were supporting the whole community by shopping local, and 51 per cent said they’d rather hand over cash to a neighbourhood business than an established brand.

Darrell Sansom, managing director of 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.”

Some 30 per cent of those surveyed said they had a long-standing connection with their favourite local business, with the average relationship lasting a solid ten years, though some small outlets supply goods to their local area for generations. One in seven people said they stuck with the same stores their parents frequented, while 54 per cent preferred a family-run business.

Sansom added that 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”.

 

When it came to supermarkets, 88 per cent said they weren’t loyal to the big names – reflecting that brand awareness doesn’t equate to brand loyalty, and the personal connection was also found wanting. Over half of consumers didn’t find it sincere if a cashier at a big supermarket asked about their day.

Proximity and cost-saving were bigger factors in where to shop when it came to supermarkets – 64 per cent of shoppers said a better deal would lure them elsewhere, while a quarter said they’d pick a different chain if one was built closer by their home or work.

The ten businesses Brits stay loyal to:

(1) Hairdresser

(2) Newsagent

(3) Butcher

(4) Baker

(5) Greengrocer

(6) Florist

(7) Shoe shop / Cobbler

(8) Clothes store

(9) Fishmonger

(10) Book shop

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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