20 May 2020, 07:15 AM
  • Public approval ratings for supermarkets have fallen, according to a poll by research consultancy Populus Group
Opportunity arises for independent shops as public support for major supermarkets declines

Support for major supermarkets has declined back towards normal levels as the national mood shifts and consumers become disillusioned with lockdown exit plans, according to a recent poll from research consultancy Populus Group.

Populus Group’s weekly Covid-19 tracker, which was carried out online from 7-10 May,  found that Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Iceland, Ocado and Marks & Spencer all fell in public approval ratings. This could potentially open the door to small, independent retailers to gain support.

Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all saw significant seven per cent declines in their respective approval ratings this week, while Tesco fell from its all-time high rating of 71% approval last week to 64%, its second-lowest rating.

Despite these figures, food retailers maintained their place at the top of the poll for their performance in response to the coronavirus pandemic compared with other sectors including the government, airlines, energy firms, telecommunications groups and non-food retailers.

“We are moving into a new phase of the Coronavirus crisis, and with this comes increased uncertainty and a spike in public anxiety,” said Manfred Abraham, CEO of BrandCap, part of the Populus Group. “Whilst lockdown is far from enjoyable it had become the status quo, and moving away from this pseudo-security will be hard.

“As shown by our tracker, supermarkets need to once again consider their position and be led by their values to continue to successfully navigate the shifting sands,” Manfred adds.

According to the poll, the public was losing its appetite for updates from organisations on how they are handling the crisis. “Only 55% agree that they want brands to tell them how they have helped, down from 58% last week and a high of 65% in week three.”

As the UK’s lockdown measures are relaxed, supermarkets are returning to their normal place in consumers’ lives. But with shoppers growing ambivalent, farm shops and independent stores that can offer something different to the major chains may stand to benefit. By using this moment to reassess and to leverage their unique positions in their communities, speciality retailers can make the most of this opportunity.