Brick-and-mortar poised for rebound in foot traffic—which sectors are leading the charge?

by | Jun 1, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

As restrictions continue to be rolled back, brick-and-mortar retailers are preparing for plenty of in-store traffic. New research from proximity search optimization firm MomentFeed sheds light on how each generation is being impacted during COVID—and provides clues for how brick-and-mortar brands should approach them as the economy reopens.

The new study, Impact of COVID-19 on National, Brick-And-Mortar Brands, reveals that 85 percent of baby boomers and 80 percent of Generation Zers plan to visit brick-and-mortar businesses the same or more than they did before COVID-19.

While support from Gen Xers and millennials is slightly lower at 76 percent and 69 percent respectively, brick-and-mortar brands can still earn these buyers’ business with the right strategy. Gen Xers are likely to prefer online options for doing business, even after concern subsides, and millennials will likely be more apt to visit businesses that provide special offers and discounts.

Brick-and-mortar poised for rebound in foot traffic—which sectors are leading the charge?

Support for local businesses transcends generational differences

While the survey identified several differences across generations, support for the local economy appears to transcend generations as we come out of COVID-19. All generations unanimously agreed they would put their support behind local businesses and local jobs, with only a few percentage points differentiating one generation from the next.

Brick-and-mortar poised for rebound in foot traffic—which sectors are leading the charge?

“There may be subtle differences in how multi-location brands market to the different generations they serve, but the premise of their campaigns should center around support for local communities,” said Nick Hedges, CEO of MomentFeed, in a news release. “Proximity to nearby customers, and the convenience that brings, has always been the competitive advantage of brick-and-mortar businesses. Now is the time to put your proximity advantage to work for your brand, showcasing how local stores are connecting with the communities they serve.”

Brick-and-mortar poised for rebound in foot traffic—which sectors are leading the charge?

Below is a snapshot of the survey results segmented by generation:

Gen Z — Engage with Fun, Entertaining Ads

Generation Z is likely to be missing out on once-in-a-lifetime events like graduations and first jobs. This generation is also likely to be feeling isolated and suffering cabin fever. Research shows fun, entertaining ads might help Gen Zers feel less isolated and create connections now that will help earn their loyalty when things open back up.

  • 44 percent of Gen Zers are concerned about contracting COVID-19, less than all other generations.
  • 66 percent of Gen Zers said they have greatly changed their daily routines due to COVID-19, second only after millennials.
  • 68 percent of Gen Zers agree they are experiencing cabin fever and can’t wait to get back to their regular routines, higher than all other generations.

Millennials — Engage with Discounts and Offers

Hit by the 2008 stock market crash at the start of their careers, millennials are now experiencing their second major economic shock, many now with a mortgage and family to support. This generation was the most concerned about contracting the virus and also the most likely to say discounts and special offers will influence their decision as the economy reopens.

  • 61 percent of millennials were highly concerned about contracting COVID-19, more than any generation.
  • 74 percent of millennials said they have “greatly changed” their routines during COVID-19.
  • Millennials are also the least likely of all generations to return to brick-and-mortar businesses after concerns subside, with 69% saying they will visit the same or more as before COVID-19.
  • 62 percent of millennials agree offers and discounts will influence buying decisions post-COVID-19, more than any other generation.

Gen- X – Engage by Offering Online Options

Generation X is most open to trying new ways of interacting with businesses online during COVID-19. Our survey also suggests online behavior may be lasting among this generation. To stay engaged with this generation, keep online options in place to give Gen Xers a choice of how they want to engage with you.

  • Gen Xers frequently ranked middle-of-the-pack for most COVID-19 concerns, behaviors, and preferences. Online behaviors being the one exception, with Gen Xers showing a clear preference for doing more online during and post-COVID-19.
  • Gen Xers were 19 percent more likely to say they are visiting online businesses more than they did before COVID-19 (compared to those that said they were visiting less).
  • Even when concern subsides, Gen Xers are 13 percent more likely to visit online businesses more than they did before COVID-19.

Baby Boomers — Engage by Showing Support for Local Economy

Baby boomers will likely lead the rebound in foot traffic back to brick-and-mortar businesses across all industries as concerns subsides. To stay engaged with this generation, it is important to know they are less interested in discounts, and more interested in supporting their local economy.

  • 85 percent of baby boomers will visit brick-and-mortar businesses the same or more than before COVID-19, more than any other generation.
  • 78 percent of baby boomers agree that they plan to support small businesses, followed closely by 77 percent that plan to support local jobs.
  • Baby boomers will put their support behind all industries, but grocery stores (90 percent*), banks (90 percent*), convenience stores (87 percent*), and retail establishments (87 percent) will see the most support from this generation. (*percentage who say they will visit the same or more)

Brick-and-mortar poised for rebound in foot traffic—which sectors are leading the charge?

Download the full study here.

To better understand consumer buying behavior amid COVID-19, MomentFeed commissioned a survey with Zogby Analytics. The survey was conducted March 25-26, 2020 among 1,010 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The survey respondents were equitably located throughout the country and represented a diverse sample of ages, genders, ethnicities, education levels, income levels, and number of children.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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