Social distancing and our buying behavior

What are the triggers to visit a physical store again? Together with VIM Group, Ruigrok Netpanel has now conducted research into these types of questions twice. This 1.5 meter monitor focuses on stores where you can make unnecessary purchases, as it was called during the lockdown. Think of garden centers, clothing stores, hardware stores, shops with household items.

Research into purchasing behavior shows that the Dutch do not yet feel really safe in shops

More shopping

We’ve been shopping more in the past month, that’s clear. In mid-May, two thirds of the Dutch had visited a shop for unnecessary groceries, a month later this is almost 80%. Especially clothing stores and shops where you can buy household items are more often visited.

Hans Onkenhout of Ruigrok Netpanel: “Compared to a month ago, however, we see that more Dutch people do not feel safe in a store. Almost one in ten feel unsafe. And the main reason? Practically everyone who felt unsafe in a store indicates that this is because other customers do not follow the rules (91%). “

Other important reasons were that there was no one-way traffic and that there were too many customers in the store. The fact that customers are becoming more and more lax with the rules was also evident from a survey of retailers that Retail Netherlands released at the end of June. Customers keep their distance or come “fun shopping” with the whole family, the shopkeepers said.

Practically everyone who felt unsafe in a store indicates that this is because other customers do not follow the rules (91%)

No discipline

According to Onkenhout, that should be somehow different. Because the 1.5-meter monitor shows that if one feels at ease with shopping, this is because customers stick to the rules. Some quotes, to illustrate: “Most people stick to the rules, which I do, so I don’t worry” and “Good precautions in shops, most people keep their distance.” The reverse also applies: if customers if you are not comfortable with shopping, this is mainly because not everyone follows the rules. “People just hit the mark and don’t take others into account at all.” And “Everyone does something, no more discipline.”

Clear rules when shopping

Onkenhout: “Obscurity of the rules when shopping does not necessarily seem to be the main reason for us to stick to the rules less well. Second third of the Dutch think the rules are clear. This seems to be diametrically opposed to the results of RIVM’s research, which show that six out of ten Dutch people find the measures confusing. But that is a bit wider than we have investigated, because we have explicitly asked for the clarity of the rules when shopping. “

More uniformity is desired

What helps is if the rules are clearly visible and clearly formulated. The consistent application of rules also helps. Dutch people who do not find the rules when shopping clear, indicate that this is because the rules are applied differently at different shops: ‘There is a jumble of rules that are applied differently everywhere.’ And ‘At one store, information upon entering, hand gel, wipes, clean baskets. Nothing at the other store. “A little more uniformity in applying the rules can help retailers make shoppers feel more secure. And a trick has to be invented to ensure that more Dutch people follow the rules in the shops.


According to the Dutchman, what helps is addressing customers who do not follow the rules. More than half of the Dutch would feel safe. Onkenhout: “But yes, easier said than done, of course, because this can also cause hassle in the store. Prevention seems better than cure, and clear, visible communication can certainly help. From the point of view of marketing communication, this must of course all be in line with your brand. “


Photo and graphic: VIM Group


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