For Independent Retailers, Brexit May Be Good for Business

Brexit shopping

As the date for Britain’s exit from the EU draws closer, the industry has been expecting the magnitude of uncertainty surrounding Brexit to impact the buying habits of British consumers. But for British brands and suppliers, it’s important to consider the potential upsides to leaving the EU, which may have an unexpectedly positive impact on the attitudes of shoppers – and in turn, business. 

For independent retailers, understanding shifting trends in consumer attitudes is key, particularly during times of huge change. It’s crucial that independents adapt quickly enough in order to survive. Independents are already in a better position than their larger retail counterparts by being the kinds of stores that already offer customers more personalised experiences in line with ever-changing needs. But to do this quickly – and above all, successfully – understanding how shoppers are feeling before the event is beneficial. As such, we conducted a study to test shopper sentiments just two months before Britain is scheduled to leave Europe.

What we found

According to our study, British consumers may well start to avoid buying products from abroad, due to widespread confusion about tax increases, data regulations and longer delivery times. Surveying 2,000 British consumers, we found that nearly a third will expect brands to make the country of origin clearer for the items they are buying – especially online – to avoid paying additional taxes on their purchases. The findings also highlighted that a quarter want clarity on the country of origin in order to avoid the longer delivery times that could be associated with buying items made from outside the UK after Brexit. We found that this same proportion expect brands to be more transparent with products as they are unclear about what the regulations will be surrounding their personal data once the UK has left the EU.

In addition, it also seems that British consumers are keen to support the growth of homegrown brands, with 24% saying that this will be at the forefront of their minds once Britain leaves. If a brand specifies the country of origin clearly, Brits admitted that this was likely to help inform their purchasing decisions.

What will also drive consumers to choose one brand over another will come down to loyalty and rewards for almost two thirds (61%) of Brits. No obligation offers will be beneficial too as 56% claim they are influenced to purchase by schemes such as this. Finally, the devil is often in the detail as 52% said they find longer form content more influential in promotional messages as opposed to only 39% who are more influenced by shorter messages.

What this means

For independent retailers, this is positive news. The findings suggest that Brexit may indeed create a significant opportunity for homegrown brands and suppliers to build trust and deeper relationships with consumers. To truly maximise on the opportunity, investing in transparency and absolute clarity, as well as rewards and creative marketing messages will become a requirement rather than a recommendation.

Retailers in Britain should feel encouraged, however, that alongside competitive advantages such as good value and personalised customer service, British consumers are also influenced by practical considerations and seamless experiences. Being able to deliver real clarity on products, taxes and data implications on top of efficient deliveries, will help to build a deeper emotional connection with customers and create real differentiation.

Never has it been more important for retailers to show they understand their audience and adapt to new needs. What may not have been an important consideration before, may now be the deciding factor in consumers choosing one brand over another.