Putting Poland’s retail landscape in context
In March 2018, Poland introduced restrictions to Sunday trading for retailers. There are several exceptions: pharmacies, bakeries, florists and travel retail outlets to name a few. Individually owned/operated stores are also exempt on the condition that the owner is present and not an employee. Initially, the new legislation allowed retailers to be open two Sundays per month. In 2019, it will pass to one Sunday per month, and as it stands, the law will encompass nearly all Sundays from 2020. While the law change was designed to benefit employees, consumer and corporate reactions have been mixed.
Our data shows that Polish retailers suffered a -25% YOY drop in Sunday traffic in 2018
We calculate that total shopper traffic in Poland was down -2.7% comparing 2017 to 2018. This confirms that the Sunday trading restrictions have halted several years of YOY growth in Polish shopper traffic – creating a frustrating situation for retailers across the country.
In 2018, the Sundays affected by the trading ban saw year-on-year shopper traffic fall by -63% on average. Overall, there was a -25% reduction in Sunday traffic in 2018, when compared to 2017. Looking at March-December only, there was a -31% reduction in Sunday traffic.
With stores only open two Sundays a month, trends show the Sunday at the end of the month have been busier, the most likely reason being that payday gives consumers more of an incentive to hit the shops.
ShopperTrak data shows that prior to the ban, YOY Sunday footfall growth was doing well, with average Sunday traffic up +2% compared to average Sunday traffic in 2017.
Has there been a traffic uplift at other times of the week?
Our data shows that for the Sundays when stores could be open, footfall on average saw YOY traffic increase by +2.42%, so not a huge jump in shopper numbers on these days.
However, the Sunday trading ban has had a clear impact on traffic on other days of the week, with customers making their shopping trips the day before or after instead.
Following the trading ban, Saturdays prior to a closed Sunday saw an average uplift in YOY traffic of +9.5%. In comparison, Saturdays prior to an open Sunday saw YOY traffic drop -2.16% on average.
Mondays which followed a closed Sunday saw YOY traffic increase +37% on average in 2018. In comparison, Mondays which follow an open Sunday saw traffic drop -6.5% YOY.
What has happened to Poland’s retail traffic in 2019? -3.8% YTD (Q1)
Similar footfall patterns are observed in 2019, according to ShopperTrak data. Sundays affected by the trading ban so far have seen an average -63% decrease in YOY traffic, while those Sundays unaffected have seen traffic increase by an average of +10.7%.
While Mondays following a closed Sunday do tend to see an uplift in traffic, it’s not to the same extent as seen in 2018, with traffic being up +5% on average YOY. There was a bigger change in Saturday traffic however, which was up almost +13% on average YOY, compared to +9.5% in 2018.
Bolstering current and future trading
“To compensate for fewer days of trading, retailers should concentrate on customer service and engagement as a means of mitigating the decline in traffic.” says Benjamin Wells-Slagle, Retail Business Consultant, at ShopperTrak. By focusing on excellent service, retailers can boost conversion rates, additionally, optimized selling techniques lead to increased basket size. Furthermore, consumers appreciate the personal attention and are more likely to return to a brand where they have had a positive experience. Shoppers have clearly adapted by moving the bulk of their shopping activities to Saturday or Monday.”
The Polish government is reportedly reviewing the impact of its increasingly strict Sunday shopping ban. But in the meantime, retailers must strive to boost sales during the permitted trading hours, by focusing tightly on their conversion rates. “A 1% increase in conversion rate, from 28% to 29% for instance, can lead to an increase in top-line sales by 8% to 10%, which could potentially compensate for the traffic shortfall,” says Wells-Slagle.
“To achieve this, retailers must develop promotions and engage in more creative ways with customers entering their stores. It helps if store assistants are fully aware of peak trading times – “Power hours”, and how they can encourage add-on sales. When spikes in traffic happen, stores must be fully resourced with staff to serve and sell, ready with the skills to recommend add-ons and maximise cross-selling opportunities.”
The future is ambiguous for Polish retailers. One certainty though is that traffic data can help store managers understand how shoppers are adapting to different trading hours. With data insights stores can re-align their resourcing and operations to meet these evolving needs, and make the best of a challenging situation.
To find out how to collect, measure and act upon shopper footfall data, request a ShopperTrak demonstration today.