Open it and they will come?


With the Government releasing its Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business last week, we asked a representative sample of 1,600 adults on May 1st 2020 to tell us which venues or destinations they would like to open first, and whether they would feel comfortable or safe in them in terms of social distancing.

A number of countries that have opened various outlets as the worst of coronavirus emergency has passed are finding that customers are not showing up in anything like the same numbers as before.

This tells us that fear is the biggest obstacle to recovery in retail and consumer markets right now: and not a lack of income or even job losses.  At least not yet.
The Amárach survey asked people to select the top 5 venues or destinations that they would like the Government to prioritise as part of the reopening roadmap.  For each of the five they chose, they were then asked to say how comfortable or safe they would feel in each venue (e.g.: from a social distancing perspective) if it were to open tomorrow.
The questions were:
Q. The Government will have to prioritise the opening of some venues and destinations over others as covid-19 restrictions are eased.  If you could only open five of the following ahead of the others, which would you choose in order of preference: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th?
Q. If each of the five venues or destinations you selected (from previous question) were open tomorrow, how comfortable would you be visiting/shopping/going to that venue or destination in terms of social distancing etc?  Choose a score on a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 is ‘extremely uncomfortable’ and 7 is ‘extremely comfortable’ for each venue.
The research shows there is a conflict between 'priority' vs 'safety' that creates four different categories of venues in the minds of the Irish consumer:
  1. Important and safe: these are destinations that make it into the top 5 for many people, and where they would feel quite safe if they were open soon.  They include DIY and garden centres, local outdoor sports facilities such as football pitches, and churches.

  2. Important but less safe: these are also among the most popular to open soon, but people would be more anxious going there.  They include hairdressers, restaurants, schools and shopping centres.

  3. Less important and safe: these did not make it into the top 5 for most people, but for those who do want them open they say they will feel quite safe there. Included are gyms, hotels, pilates/yoga classes, and cinemas.

  4. Less important and less safe: finally, these are the destinations or venues that fewer people picked as part of their top 5, but even those who did pick them confess to some anxiety about going there soon.  They include pubs, airports and music venues.


The chart provides a visual comparison of the different outlets in terms of priority vs safety:


The table below shows all the venues/destinations ranked by priority and % choosing it as one of their top 5; then ranked by 'safety' measured by our second question and the average safety score (higher score means safer/more comfortable from social distancing perspective):

The 'other' category includes golf courses, beaches, fertility clinics and many other retailers and services (including plumbers and electricians to come to peoples' homes for repairs etc).

Overall the research is telling us that many businesses will have to work hard to convince customers that it is safe to come in; but those who do it well will reap the reward of a lot of pent up demand among Irish consumers as restrictions are eased in the weeks and months ahead.

For more details about these findings contact Amárach at:




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