BWG Group has released the results of a new survey of Spar, Eurospar, Mace, Londis and XL independent retailers.
The research, which was conducted over the course of the last two weeks, includes an assessment of the future outlook and key challenges, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on costs and operations.
The survey found that approximately 73% of respondents feel positive or very positive about the future outlook for their businesses, with the remainder of respondents unclear at this time.
"This research highlights just how strongly our independent retailers responded to COVID-19 by continuing to provide an essential service to their local communities throughout the pandemic, all while accelerating the introduction of a number of new services and innovations aimed at delivering on the needs of consumers in a safe and convenient environment,” said Leo Crawford, group chief executive of BWG Group.
A smaller proportion of independent retailers (67%) are positive about the outlook for the wider grocery sector, with 31% unclear at this time, the research showed.
Specifically relating to the virus, the research revealed that 98% of independent retailers invested in new health and safety fittings in line with COVID-19 requirements.
The majority of the stores (74%) said that they have spent up to €2,000 on upgrades, 21% spent up to €5,000 and 5% spent between €5,000 and €10,000, during the pandemic.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered how consumers approach grocery shopping with health and safety, personal service and convenience all key drivers now, it has also reaffirmed the place of grocery retailers at the very heart of the local community, particularly independent retailers who are often multigenerational family owned SMEs,” he added.
Price & Value
As economic uncertainty continues to impact consumer behaviour, 42% of retailers believe that Price & Value will be the most important shopping priority for consumers going forward.
Crawford commented: "From an economic perspective, it is encouraging to see positivity from our independent retailers regarding the outlook for their businesses, particularly as their presence in nearly every town and village across Ireland positions them as a strong barometer of economic activity."
"While the majority of our retailers remain optimistic and ready to invest in their businesses which employ over 23,000 people nationwide, there is a clear call out for action from the new Government on commercial rates and insurance costs, to sustain these businesses into the future,” he added.
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