Predictions that consumers would punish brands for their perceived poor response to the Covid-19 pandemic appear to have come back to bite Wetherspoons and Sports Direct, although Tesco is in the unusual position of being both praised and slated for its performance.
So says a tracker study commissioned by shopper agency SMP, which canvasses more than 2,000 UK consumers, and shows that nearly half (44%) of UK adults have already changed their shopping habits.
Of those, one in six (16%) say they made the switch because they did not like the retailer’s response to Covid-19; rising to 26% of GenZers (aged 16-24) and 24% of millennials (aged 25-34).
The study noted that 50% also said they would go more often to certain retailers in the future because of how positively they responded to the pandemic.
At the top of the naughty step we have Sports Direct, followed by Wetherspoon and Tesco, while those getting gold stars are Tesco, followed by Asda and Amazon.
SMP group managing director Peter Martin said: “Covid-19 has shone a harsh light on the UK’s high street. In an age of Twitter and online news, shoppers have been able to gauge retailer reaction to this unprecedented situation in real time – and they’re letting their hearts lead their wallets.
“Some very big retail names have received acclaim for their swift reaction to the pandemic, especially with regard to how they treat key workers, while others have already been lambasted in the court of public opinion.
“What’s clear is that brand values and behaviour have become important in a way we’ve never seen before. People see how brands act when the chips are down, and many seem willing to change their shopping preferences accordingly.
“It is likely that Tesco’s sheer scale puts it on both the good and bad lists, with thousands of stores and home delivery options keeping people stocked with groceries during this difficult time, while also potentially leading to frustrations for some, over access to delivery slots and queueing.”
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