Who's excited about retail opening back up?

Written by
Fifty Team

Insights by
Josh Tompkins

01 Jun, 2020

With non-essential retailers beginning to open their doors again, Boris Johnson is urging the British public to return to the high street. But with plexiglass tills and social distancing queues, who is actually eager to shop? Throughout the month of May, Fifty studied people tweeting ‘when this is over’ + ‘sales’, ‘shopping’ or ‘going to buy’ in order to understand the sentiment around post-lockdown retail.


Two of the largest tribes within this audience are Students: Hip Hop Fans and Gen Z Social Media Addicts. Together, they make up a collective 20% of the study and indicate that younger people have fewer concerns about going to shops than perhaps other generations.

But alongside, younger tribes there is also a sense that those with money are also ready to get out and shop. Well-to-do tribes such as Senior Professionals, Affluent Northerners and Mancunian Socialites also index highly – likely because they were less financially impacted from the lockdown in the first place.


To understand how the emergence from lockdown might attract a different shopper, we compared this audience to 2019’s Black Friday audience – another momentous shopping occasion. Black Friday attracted a more mainstream audience, indicated by the presence of Deal-seeking Mums and Pub Dwellers within the top five tribes. In their place in the post-lockdown study, are Senior London Professionals and Digital Innovators – an entirely different segment of the population. This may relate to the affluent nature of those seeking immediate retail therapy post-lockdown.


While some people may be looking forward to shopping in the coming weeks, the high presence of the Medical Professionals tribe could indicate conversations around concern over the loosened restrictions. The presence of the Pro-EU Activists and Global Change Advocates tribes indicate discussions around the return to retail amongst the politically-engaged may have more to do with comparing Britain’s strategy to other nations, rather than excitement around shopping.


Consider whether your retail offer matches the current demographics (young and affluent) who are ready to shop. If not, what can you do to assuage your customers that it is safe for them to return?

The motivations for shopping are much different than a usual big sales day.  For many it will be a cathartic release, striving to return to some sort of normality in their lives

Not everyone is happy with the government’s timeline for re-opening. It is important to balance your messaging between optimistic and pragmatic.

Catch up on the latest trends and insights here.

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