How an independent shoe retailer more than doubled year-on-year sales despite COVID-19

Despite the coronavirus pandemic forcing its bricks and mortar store to close, Cheltenham independent shoe retailer Keith Scarrott is thriving. By using Maybe* the retailer has more than doubled its month on month sales in April, and its year on year performance in 2020. Over a short period of time the business was able to identify behavioural trends and effectively use social media to continue to serve customers online from an existing and brand new customer base. We’ll share how they did it to inspire and help you to do the same.

"The Maybe* platform has been a real game-changer for our online proposition. We use it to understand who our audience is and what products will be of greatest interest to them".
Sophie Scarrott, CEO, Keith Scarrott Shoes

The immediate impact of Covid-19

In mid-March Cheltenham town centre is bustling with visiting footfall over the Cheltenham festival. But during the week commencing 15 March, 2020 Keith Scarrott Shoes saw a noticeable decline in High Street footfall and increased store closures as the severity of the virus began to sink in.

CEO Sophie Scarrott made the decision to close its store with Saturday 21 March being its last day of trading. Like many businesses, Sophie turned off all digital advertising, social media activity and email communications on 23 March, responding to the increased anxiety of the public and decreased likelihood of them needing to receive non-essential communication.

sales data

Orders over time for Keith Scarrott comparing March and April in 2019 and 2020. 

Using this brief pause in activity, the business recognised the need to stay connected to customers, the importance of supporting other local businesses in the area and creating positive and uplifting messages for its customers. The shop adapted its social media content strategy to reflect this new and non-sales led approach.

Over the same period, the business should have been celebrating its 45th anniversary so it made the decision to launch a local campaign via social media.

The brand populated its social media feed with archive images of Cheltenham and its back catalogue to tell the story of its rich heritage in the town and in luxury and unique footwear. It encouraged followers to send and share their own images of the styles customers had bought from them over the years, rewarding participation with personal replies and a £10 gift voucher.


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Listening, reacting and planning ahead

Staff also got involved sharing their favourite pieces from collections gone by and the new collection soon to launch. Keith Scarrott has a great online presence and as the initial anxiety around selling over the lockdown period began to ease, the business turned its attention to the future, making the decision to launch its new Summer collection online.

In 2019 Keith Scarrott used the Maybe* platform to understand the images and trends customers most responded to online to inform its creative brand direction. While locked down, the business was unable to undertake a lifestyle photoshoot, so instead it busied itself with indoor product shots, set against bold summer colours with a modern and quirky twist.


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Getting back to business

On April 6 the business made the decision to turn its messaging back on. It deployed an email to its base announcing the new collection and turned its social media advertising back on with a very limited spend of £10 per day.

Sophie decided to use social media and email to tell her very personal story. She openly communicated that she was working differently. There would be a limited post run of 2 times per week which would impact delivery times, she was offering contactless delivery and would be operating reduced customer service hours. By being personal about how the situation had impacted her business as well as honest about expectations, the business was able to still offer an exceptional service to customers.

By listening to the conversation about #Cheltenham in the Maybe* platform as well as actively engaging with customers online, Sophie was aware of the impact of lockdown on people, especially mothers.

To help keep the little ones entertained the business launched a trainer design and colouring contest online just for fun and re-shared the entrants' creations. Every participant got a £10 voucher, while the top 4 received an art prize for the child and a £50 voucher for Mum.


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Identifying new opportunities

On 14 April the business recognised an opportunity to connect with a new demographic of mums that may not previously have considered the brand. It decided to launch a new trainer at a lower price point than its usual pricing strategy. This provided mums with the opportunity to self treat as they grew wearier from homeschooling, DIY jobs and constant requests for snacks.

As well as increasing its online sales and attracting a new customer the brand has seen sentiment about it soar since the launch of its colouring contest and new trainer range.

Key takeaway

The business plans to increase its Facebook advertising spend using the Maybe* advertising tool so that it can easily dial spend  up and down as necessary and to have clear insight into which ads are performing It will also monitor the sentiment of the conversation in the town and about the brand so should there be any negativity about their trading, they can quickly respond to it. In addition Sophie is continuing to shine a positive light via social media on other local businesses.

At a time of increased consumer activity and attention, businesses  have and continue to respond to the situation by decreasing the amount of connection to their customers. Keith Scarrott is a great example of how, if managed sensitively and with insight, a retailer can trade through the crisis and potentially even improve results. 

Maybe* is here to help businesses stay connected to customers via its social media engagement tool. By providing social media and advertising insight tools, we can help your business respond and adapt quickly.

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