Google saw a “huge jump” in the number of searches for local produce and beer delivery services during the coronavirus lockdown, the tech giant’s UK managing director said.
Ronan Harris said there had been a 1,300% increase in people searching for “local meat delivery” and “local farm box” over the past few months, while searches for beer delivery rose by 500%.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday that consumers had turned to local businesses for items while their movement was restricted by lockdown measures.
However, he said a survey found customers were not visiting firms that had no online presence or had not updated their opening times during the pandemic.
Mr Harris said: “As we were forced into lockdown and limiting our movements, people were returning to their local businesses and wanting to find out were they open, were they delivering, were they doing click and collect and what was available.”
He said Google partnered with market research firm YouGov to speak with small firms and consumers across the UK about issues they faced.
“The key information that came back was many businesses are still struggling to get themselves established online, figure out how to get their information and data updated online, and consumers are turning online looking for those businesses and those services,” he said.
Mr Harris continued: “For the small business owner, if they weren’t online, if they didn’t have their information updated about their opening times or whether or not they had safety measures in places, consumers weren’t finding them and weren’t going to them.”
His comments came as Google announced plans to offer small businesses new tools to help improve their online presence and reach more customers.
The free tool will provide bespoke recommendations to firms on the best products and resources that will help them get online for the first time or improve their existing presence.
It is part of the firm’s Open for Business initiative, which has committed to helping one million small British businesses stay open by making them easier to be found online.