THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON RETAIL

The following data takes a look at how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the retail industry. Unlike some other industries in this report, the retail industry had to close the doors to a large majority of their locations. As e-commerce sales are flourishing, rising 49% in April, many brick-and-mortar retailers had to quickly adjust their omnichannel strategy in order to keep sales coming in. Here’s a look at reputation’s role on the retail industry during the Coronavirus pandemic.

LOCAL BUSINESS LISTINGS

The retail industry experienced the largest decrease in foot traffic from March to April, as represented by a 36.12% drop in driving direction clicks. On March 13th, the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. It was during this time that many consumers started panic-buying and stockpiling items like toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and food. According to our data, this led to a stark increase in phone calls to businesses that same week as many consumers called retailers to confirm items were in stock before visiting. 

In the month of May, consumers started to return to retail stores as shown by a 42.8% increase in driving directions. Although both phone calls and website visits dipped slightly in May, they’re still higher than average. This suggests consumers are still nervous about visiting businesses in-person. 

BRAND REPUTATION

The retail industry experienced a 77% decrease in review volume from March to April, dropping 87.15% year-over-year for the month of April. Despite the drastic drop in review volume, the retail industry saw the largest growth in review volume (196.35%) once businesses started to reopen.  

The retail industry saw a .15 decrease in overall star rating from March to April. Compared to other industries, this decrease is not as severe. As retailers reopen, we’ve seen their star rating rise by .05, only one-third of the rating decrease caused by the pandemic.

The retail industry is one of the few industries that were able to increase their response rate during the pandemic, rising by almost 10% in April. Their ability to keep responding to reviews during this time may have helped to prevent their star rating from dropping below a 4.0 during the pandemic.

The customer sentiment towards the retail industry during the pandemic grew increasingly negative. From March to April, negative sentiment grew 13%. April’s negative sentiment more than doubled compared to the previous year. By May, the negative sentiment had dropped slightly by 6%, although businesses are reopening it doesn’t mean the customer experience is improving.

SUMMARY

The retail industry was hit hard by the pandemic, sales dropped a record 16.4% in April, more than 3x lower than the 2008 recession. This impact was clearly reflected in the retail industry’s GMB insights. When it comes to reputation, customers are clearly frustrated with retailers and new regulations impacting their ability to shop in-store. As retailers continue to reopen, it’s important to understand that a brand’s reputation and local SEO go a long way in earning back customers. 

The retail industry has done a great work in improving their response rate during the pandemic, however, it’s important to take that customer feedback and apply it to changes both in-store and throughout their entire omnichannel experience. Both phone calls and website visits have been steady during the month of May. We believe customers will continue to turn to omnichannel services as businesses continue to reopen over the next several months. 

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