23 May 2022

Recommendations feed into new national guide for retailers

Research helps develop Everyone Welcome Guide

Practical recommendations to encourage older rural shoppers back into stores in the wake of Covid-19 from research commissioned by the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) have fed into a new guide for retailers.

The Association of Convenience Stores’ (ACSEveryone Welcome Guide details how to provide excellent customer service for all shoppers, including the millions of those with disabilities and different needs, and was developed in consultation with NICRE.

The Encouraging older customers back in store - recommendations (PDF) (100KB) are intended to help welcome more older shoppers back, make those who already had feel more comfortable, and encourage an improved experience for customers.

They emerged from research carried out by the University of Southampton which explored how the pandemic had impacted the shopping habits and attitudes of consumers aged 65+ living and shopping in rural communities in the South of England.

One of seven NICRE projects

Lead author Dr Rob Angell, Associate Professor of Marketing Research at the University of Southampton, said: “We’re delighted that our research has fed into the ACS’ Everyone Welcome Guide and it’s excellent to see it published.

“While our study focused on the attitudes of older people towards shopping at rural stores, certain aspects of the store environment and experience that impacted if, and how, they shopped were also captured.

“Several challenges and opportunities emerged for retailers to improve the shopping experience of older customers and we hope that by being part of this new guide they will be considered.”

The research Impact of the pandemic on interactions between older shoppers & rural retailers is one of seven projects funded by NICRE and carried out by universities across England to further explore rural enterprise and expand its portfolio.

Local shops’ role in communities

The Everyone Welcome Guide provides advice for retailers both in terms of how stores can be adapted and how colleagues can provide a welcoming environment for all customers.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops operate at the heart of our communities and serve all customers, whatever their needs and talents.

“Convenience retailers are committed to serving their communities and providing their customers with a positive environment with meaningful interactions. We have created this guidance to provide retailers with practical advice on how they can ensure that they are delivering excellent customer service to every single person who visits their store.”

Neil O’Brien MP, Minister for Levelling Up and High Streets, said: “Convenience stores are part of the fabric of community life across the UK. They serve local people and provide essential service and opportunities.  The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) comprehensive guide will provide industry-leading advice to retailers to future-proof their businesses and make shops more welcoming to all.”

Alongside NICRE, the guide was developed in consultation with the Alzheimer’s Society, Business Disability Forum, Sense and Age UK.