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Conference Proceeding

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This research examines how retail businesses from central England’s Midlands region communicated temporary closure of their brick-and-mortar stores via shop window messages during the first two Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020. These closure notices represent important forms of crisis communication for businesses, which display various levels of information, emotional language, or functional intent, and offer signposts for business continuity. 417 shop window closure notices were photographed - 167 and 250 from the first and second periods of lockdown respectively. In order to analyse the data, a multimodal social semiotic framework was employed, allowing the study to examine the language, design and function of each notice. Interviews were then conducted with selected businesses and customers to generate insights into the nature of messaging used by businesses. The findings detail how businesses adopt corporate/personal voices for their messaging, outline uncertain temporality about reopening, and help to amplify national public health messaging.

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