High Streets Initiative · 10 August 2017

Good business ethics determines loyalty of nine in ten high street shoppers

Waitress is serving a cup of tea to a customer sitting at a table in a cafe.
Respondents claimed they would pay higher costs to see a happy workforce

As a small high street business, gaining an edge over large competitors is a vital part of survival. Now, seeing the positive business ethics behind the company appears high on the priorities of shoppers.

According to new survey findings, collected by waste management agency Business Waste, 90 per cent of UK consumers said they “always” considered a business’ accreditation and record on issues such as tax, treatment of staff and environmental issues.

For almost all respondents, visible hygiene certificates were “extremely” important when deciding to visit a food business.

Long-serving, familiar staff could also help a small firm establish itself among bigger businesses, and consumers wanted to see a happy workforce treated well behind the scenes.

“I judge a business by how friendly the staff are and whether they seem like they enjoy working there. I don’t mind paying a bit extra for a place with staff who really care,” read one survey response.

We want to hear your views on the challenges facing UK high street retailers, so please take two minutes to complete our High Streets Initiative survey and make a difference.

With questions around modern employment practices taking headlines throughout 2017, the debate also looks to have engaged shoppers.

“With things like zero-hours contracts going around, and all that pollution and tax evasion going on, you can’t trust anyone these days unless they’ve got proof they’re really a good company,” said Ken Thompson, a high street shopper from Birmingham.

He added: “I want to know where my money’s going so I always look out for certificates to make sure I’m in the right place.”

When it came to the environment, three-quarters of those surveyed said they wanted to see indications a company was taking care of the planet.

Meanwhile, 45 per cent said they would only consider using a business that paid its taxes in the UK.

Commenting on the findings, Mark Hall a spokesperson for Business Waste, said visible, positive business ethics would give shops a crucial advantage.

“What we’re finding is that customers are becoming more and more discerning with the growing amount of choice they have and are aware of bad business practice too,” he said.

“It’s not just your products or services they’re buying into, but your business ethos as well, so it’s now more important than ever to get and display your credentials.

“As a business you need to be constantly telling potential customers who you are, and proving that you’re one of the good guys, to inspire that loyalty.”

Find out how this customer reward scheme is generating big-brand loyalty for high street independents

This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

Tax & admin