Mystery shoppers crown Northampton town centre top

Visitors to Northampton centre feel safe, confident and keen to return – these are the findings from market research organisation Storecheckers.

Storecheckers sent mystery shoppers to 130 stores in 10 retail centres across England and Wales, including Northampton. They monitored the proportion of people wearing masks and then assessed how this impacted on their perception of COVID care and security and their willingness to return to each store they had visited.

Northampton town centre came out top, with 100% of customers wearing masks and only 15% of staff not wearing masks – the highest performing town centre visited by the mystery shoppers.
Mark Mullen, BID manager for Northampton town centre, said: “We are proud of our stores and our visitors. Findings have shown that the government’s position to state that it is not compulsory to wear marks has had a detrimental effect on shoppers’ willingness to come back to shops. So, we are delighted to have scored so highly – we are the top scoring town centre and have a loyal customer base and businesses that are committed to keeping their customers and staff feel and stay safe.”

Storecheckers found that visitors felt safer in stores where all staff had masks, with 60% feeling ‘very safe’ or ‘safe’ in the shop’s COVID environment, against 43% ‘very safe’ or ‘safe’ where not all staff had face coverings on.

The gap in confidence to return is even greater – 93% felt ‘fully confident’ or ‘quite confident’ in returning to shops where all staff had masks. This fell to 50% where shop floor teams were not wearing facial protection.

Jeff Caplan, Storecheckers’ Managing Director, commented: “Shoppers are showing caution in returning to the high street and this is holding back recovery. Last week’s action by the government shows the import they place on the role that masks play in controlling the COVID virus and these findings indicate that customers have the same feelings. Staff have freedom to not wear masks, however in doing so they are lessening the chance of shoppers coming back to their stores.”