Ecommerce has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic, but the majority of UK consumers are also ready to return to the shops. That’s according to new research by mobile advertising company, TabMo, which canvassed consumers the week before non-essential retail outlets were allowed to restart trading. 74% of respondents in the study said they would go back to stores they frequently visited pre-lockdown as soon as the government said it is safe to do so.
Having established their shopping habits before and during lockdown, the survey asked consumers about their preferences for returning to shopping ‘In Real Life’ (IRL) when they could do so. Coffee shops are likely to see the fastest return to near pre-pandemic footfall, closely followed by health, beauty and cosmetics retailers, fast food restaurants and DIY outlets.
The desire to shop in-store is illustrated by the supermarkets, which, as essential retailers, have been open throughout the crisis. TabMo’s research showed that 70% of people who shopped at them in-person before the pandemic continued to visit during lockdown. (25% undertook grocery shopping online, while 5% said they had not shopped at a supermarket).
However, although shoppers are keen to return to physical retail outlets, their behaviour is likely to change:
- While many survey respondents were unsure about their future shopping habits, 48% said they are more likely to browse online and purchase in-store.
- 49% reported that they would shop locally (continuing their commitment to the outlets that have catered for them during lockdown).
- 48% thought purchasing in-store would be less enjoyable, indicating that shopping is likely to become less of a social activity.
With the high focus on buying rather than browsing, shopping becomes transactional rather than social and the ‘value’ of each customer in store increases. This is key insight for retailers in terms of the in-store experience, but also informs the advertising required to encourage people back to physical retail outlets.
Retailers, brands and advertisers need to prepare now as people think about heading back to the shops. As well as the offering itself, that means getting communications right – encouraging people to visit retail outlets in person while being sensitive to the high degrees of anxiety and uncertainty that still exist and recognising that, while lockdown has eased, the pandemic is far from over.
Chris Childs, managing director for TabMo, UK
The full report, TabMo’s Retail Spotlight: UK Shopping Habits Before, During and After the Coronavirus Lockdown, will be published in early July.