Retail customers’ expectations for cleanliness and overall in-store experience have changed forever because of COVID-19.

No longer are a well swept floor and organized shelves enough to satisfy clean standards. As a retail business, your store needs to be properly sanitized and deeply cleaned.

Failing to meet today’s higher cleaning standards can mean a significant loss of business and eventual closing of your business. Moreover, meeting these cleaning standards can be a large task for some retail businesses.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the number of retail store locations in the United States was up 4,700 year-over-year in Q4 of 2020, the highest quarterly store count number on record. The National Retail Federation reports there are 128.6 thousand retail stores today in North Carolina alone. 

That’s a lot of competition to differentiate your business from. Especially if you want to avoid becoming like one of the record 12,200 retail stores that shuttered for good in 2020.

With experts forecasting an 18%-22% bump in sales for 2021, and many shoppers returning to retail stores thanks to widespread vaccination and other measures, the future is ripe with possibility. 

So how do you get those customers to choose your store over your competition? 

For starters, your storefront needs to be updated, clear of clutter, and totally clean from any dirt, dust, or grime. Failing to do so is a surefire way for your business to go extinct like countless others have. It’s the difference between being part of the retail renaissance, or  closing up shop for good.

The harsh truth is that the biggest differentiating factor between you and your competitors in the present market is the cleanliness of your store. Let’s take a look at what consumers think of a dirty store, and how it shapes their shopping habits and decisions. 

Nothing Kills Your Retail Business Like Filth  

Customers are repelled by a dirty, cluttered, outdated-looking store. A 2019 report compiled by ServiceChannel states 64% of shoppers surveyed said they had walked out of a store due to poor physical appearance and disorganization. Many of those customers will go to a similar competitor that has maintained their store’s cleanliness and appearance. 

With how simple it is to pull out a phone and find another option, even standing right in the aisle of a dirty store, you can’t even bank on them staying out of convenience.

One study found that the top 5 cleanliness factors that cause people to stop going to a store forever are: 

  1. General Bad Odor
  2. Dirty Restrooms
  3. Dirty and Dusty Surfaces
  4. Poor Entryway Cleanliness
  5. Broken and Dirty Dressing Rooms

Now, nearly every customer is equipped with a phone that can document the poor conditions they encounter. Many won’t hesitate to post their negative experience online — often as soon as they hit the parking lot. 

Sometimes you’ll have a chance to respond and add context or reassurance to a Yelp review or a comment on your store’s social media page. 

But more often customers will post things on their own social media, where their perception is reality, and that reality can sometimes go viral in ways that hurt your business. Unfortunately, many of these negative reviews stick around forever, and must be buried under a much greater number of positive reviews and experiences. 

If you haven’t been viewing store cleanliness as a direct factor in your bottom line up until this point, changing that perception is simply a MUST. It may have been easier in the past to view cleaning as a necessary yet non-priority task, and instead focus on flash sales and marketing.

It’s time to view cleaning as part of that marketing, since once someone is on the scene nothing speaks louder about who you are as a brand.

Review Your Retail Store From The Customer’s Perspective

When you’re in the same building every day, you’d be surprised how many glaring cleanliness issues fade into the background and become easily ignored.

Even though you may not see the dust bunnies and crud, your customers certainly do. To see how far your store has deteriorated and what needs to be addressed, you need to look around with fresh eyes.

The exterior should have clean shiny windows, up-to-date displays, and a well-maintained parking lot free of trash. How are customers supposed to become entranced by your products and services if trash on the pavement or smudgy windows grab their attention first? 

Four out of five shoppers surveyed by Service Channel said they would rather have a clean store than one with the newest tech. Two-thirds of customers say that retailers are forgetting the basics, like clean floors and well-stocked merchandise, in the rush to add new technology. 

Staying relevant and surviving amongst heavy competition isn’t going to come from solely upgrading your hardware and software. Customers demand, and deserve, a safe and appealing atmosphere that invites them to stay awhile and get comfortable enough to browse. If you provide that for them, you’re sure to reap financial benefits.

9 out of 10 respondents surveyed  say a clean and organized store environment increases their likelihood of making a purchase. 

CST Can Ensure Your Efforts to Attract Customers Doesn’t Backfire. Do You Need a Cleaning Company To Help You Catch Up?  

The secret to many retailers managing to keep a sparkling storefront despite the challenges of staffing and other business priorities is that they turn to third-party cleaning companies. 

Hiring professional cleaners to get your store where it needs to be for opening to full capacity is an investment that will keep customers coming back to your store, and generating positive word of mouth. 

Carolina Services of the Triad Inc is a commercial cleaning company that serves the North Carolina Triad area and beyond. Contact us today about cleaning up against the competition today.