Brighton shop owner Suzanne O’Leary's decision to take her dog Bertie into work has really paid off.
Suzanne owns Little Beach Boutique in North Laine and during lockdown she introduced her three-year-old Chinese Crested Powder Puff dog Bertie to the shop. By the time customers were able to return, Bertie had settled into the surroundings and is now a huge hit with the customers, welcoming them into the shop and spinning around to win treats.
Suzanne said: "We have plenty of repeat customers who know his name from Instagram, they come in to see him and bring him treats and give him a cuddle. He is certainly a conversation starter, and encourages customers to stay for longer just to have a chat about how awesome dogs are! A regular came in last week to meet him for the first time and spontaneously treated herself to a new pair of earrings that we had just put on display.”
Research by Metro Bank revealed this week that having a 'shop dog' like Bertie can help drive footfall, repeat visits as well as improving profitability and customer loyalty. The bank said it found nearly half of UK adults (47 per cent) admitted they had specifically gone into a shop because of the friendly face and waggy tail welcome of a shop dog and 80 per cent of those surveyed said they spent longer in shops with a dog, with 79 per cent admitting it made them spend more money.
The bank found just over four in five (81 per cent) of respondents to its survey had returned to a shop to see a dog again and more than half (53 per cent) said being able to bring their own dog into a shop on impacts their decision to go in.
The Little Beach Boutique specialises in handmade and locally sourced gifts, jewellery, prints and glass created in house by Suzanne.
Talking about Bertie, Suzanne added: “If it's a quiet week, it is great to have the company. He's a big fan of the kilns I use for making my glass because they warm up the shop on a cold day, and he snuggles up next to them.”
Jessica Myers, brand and marketing director from Metro Bank, said: “After a difficult period for many retailers and small businesses, attracting customers back in-store is a huge challenge, but a shop dog could be the secret weapon to recovery. Dogs are proven to relieve stress, relax people and make a great talking point to break the ice with customers. For people who live alone or who are unable to keep a pet, or simply for the tens of millions of consumers who can’t resist an interaction with a friendly fluffy face, they bring a bit of joy to the daily routine.
“Moreover, millions of dog owners are more likely to visit a business that allows their four-legged friend inside, which is why we’ve always welcomed dogs into all of our Metro Bank stores across the UK, and why we offer free dog biscuits, branded bandannas and water bowls for our four-legged friends as well. It’s been lovely to hear stories from real-life shop owners about how their dogs have made a real difference not just to their lives but to their businesses too.”