Covid-19: Hammerson introduces live customer traffic updates online

Retail property group Hammerson has added a new feature called ‘Crowd Checker’ on its destination’s websites to provide consumers with real-time information about how crowded its shopping centres are.

The move is part of efforts to ensure social distancing requirements are met in Hammerson sites during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and potentially encourage more consumers to return to physical shopping. Shop Footfall has so far remained very low despite the reopening of non-essential stores last month.

Hammerson has partnered with retail technology firm Red Ant to introduce the feature, which enables shoppers to discover how busy sites are at any one time, helping them avoid large crowds.

To develop the technology, Red Ant integrated ShopperTrak’s footfall analysis API, configuring its software so that an occupancy status can be given based on the number of people visiting a centre at any one time.

The feature has four statuses to help inform customers of the quietest times to visit: ‘Now is a great time to visit the centre’, ‘Now is a popular time to visit the centre’, ‘The centre is really popular right now. Allow extra time’, and ‘Centre closed. Plan when it’s best to visit’.

The feature is currently available for the Brent Cross, Cabot Circus, and Westquay sites in the UK and for Les Terrasses du Port in Marseille, France, and will be rolled out across the rest of Hammerson’s flagship destinations.

Kathryn Malloch, head of customer experience at Hammerson, commented: “We know that some customers are still a little nervous about visiting their favourite shops, and want to beat the crowds.

“We’re always looking at how we can make life easier and simpler for our customers, and Crowd Checker is a great example of that, as it enables shoppers to check how popular a destination is in live time before they visit, so they can plan their trip. Not only does it enable shoppers to avoid the queues, it also helps us to manage footfall, and to ensure our destinations are safe places to visit.”

Last week, the UK government announced that face coverings will be mandatory in stores and supermarkets across England from this Friday 24 July.