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Shopping centre sentiment uncovered: how Westfield Stratford and the Trafford Centre are faring post-lockdown

It's been three weeks since lockdown restrictions were eased and shopping centres and stores re-opened their doors. It's been a tough few weeks for sure. Shopping centre giant Intu announced it was entering administration, while Bicester Village experienced backlash around its social distancing measures. We’ve taken a look at the sentiment of the social conversation about the Trafford Centre and compared it to that of Westfield Stratford to see what shopping centres can learn and do to improve customer perception and encourage a surge of shoppers. 

How are people feeling about shopping centres?

In Manchester, it could go either way. The Trafford Centre has received several messages over the last fortnight criticising social distance measures, or a lack of enforcement around those measures. But at the same time, there is plenty of positive chat about the centre, and curiosity for what might be to come over the coming months.

Customers and shoppers are actively seeking out information around opening times, which entrances to use and what is and isn’t open.  People want to visit but they want to feel safe.

In Stratford’s Westfield the story is marginally more positive. Customers have praised brand efforts to get social distancing right, but still the majority of negativity surrounds the lack of distancing being enforced.

Meanwhile over in Westfield Stratford, the centre has positively benefited from a fantastic campaign celebrating NHS workers ahead of the NHS 72nd birthday. The emotional significance of the NHS is still very high and the public are still happy and proud to show their support, with praise coming from overseas as well as at home.

In Stratford’s Westfield, the story is a little more positive. But only marginally. Customers have praised brand efforts to get social distancing right, but still the majority of negativity surrounds the lack of distancing.

On the other hand Westfield Stratford has positively benefited from a fantastic campaign celebrating NHS workers ahead of the NHS 72nd birthday. The emotional significance of the NHS is still very high and the public are still happy and proud to show their support, with praise coming from overseas as well as at home.

How do your customers feel?

Key takeaway

Shoppers are still nervous. They want reassurance and their safety is their number one concern. While this is a new expectation for centres to have to meet, or at least it is on this scale of importance; meet this they must. While centres may be marking floors, operating one way systems, and communicating this to shoppers, the flaw seems to be in the enforcement.

Customers are clearly looking to retail outlets to ensure that other customers follow the rules. By not recognising that customers see this as the responsibility of the shopping centres, it is the centres themselves that are suffering in the sentiment stakes, when they do not take accountability..

People want to be out and about, they want to be spending money, exploring the places that have been off limits to them for three months, shopping centres will only benefit from this when they hear customer feedback and act on it.

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