The pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives. Since we first went into lockdown in March 2020, many of our everyday habits were affected, and shopping was the first to change for most of us. 

Whether it was empty shelves due to panic buying or fear of transmission, in-store shopping soon became off-putting, then impossible, as government restrictions changed.

Consumers immediately shifted from window-shopping to researching online – online customer journeys became the default. As a result, retailers had to react quickly to meet the changing needs of consumers.

Enders Analysis estimated that there were four years of e-commerce acceleration within the first three months of lockdown. 84% of shoppers used online sources to research their purchases in 2020, vs 76% in 2019.

There was a noticeable shift in behaviour from older shoppers; 12% more consumers aged 45-54 researched purchases online year on year, and there was a 19% increase from those aged 55+.

There was also a significant jump in app use; 37% of consumers have now performed a mobile purchase via an app, compared to 24% in 2019. 

It may be apparent that online purchases increased in 2020, consumer electronics grew 18%, home and garden purchases went up by 19% and online fashion purchases were up by a staggering 45%. But interestingly, as restrictions ease and retail sales return to pre-pandemic levels, we are not all returning to our previous consumer behaviours. Covid 19 looks set to have a long-term impact on the way we buy.

Lockdown gave consumers an opportunity to consider the wider impact of their purchasing decisions. People are now choosing brands that care about sustainability and societal issues. This approach looks set to continue, with most people wanting to support independent, local businesses and shop with environmental concerns in mind. 

57% are more likely to spend money at a business that offers locally produced products than they would have been before.

However, it’s important to remember that consumers who the pandemic has financially hit don’t have the luxury of shopping sustainably. If the cost of a comparable product is less, they will choose the least expensive option.

More time on our hands during the pandemic has also led to a trend for discovery and trial in our purchasing habits; 25% of people have bought from a new brand or retailer. 

Online shopping continues to be the preference for most consumers, with bricks and mortar acting as an experiential aspect of the customer journey.

Younger age groups have continued shopping online for ease and convenience, whereas risking exposure to COVID-19 is the most significant reason people aged 55+ prefer to shop online.

As the restrictions continue to change and new variants emerge, the challenge for retailers continues. What is clear is that a digital-first strategy is imperative in uncertain times.

Source: Think with Google

by | Jun 22, 2021