Bricks and mortar back with a bang for festive shopping

Sensormatic Solutions, the leading global retail solutions portfolio of Johnson Controls, released its UK Retail: Shopper Sentiment Report, which found more consumers are planning to do their Christmas shopping in-store compared to 2020, despite the digital acceleration of ecommerce and lingering concerns around bricks-and-mortar shopping as the UK’s covid-19 infections continue to rise.

Original research of 1,000 UK shoppers in the report showed almost three quarters (72%) of consumers plan to shop in-store during peak trading this year, up + 18 percentage points compared to 2020, pointing to growing confidence – and rekindled demand – amongst consumers for bricks-and-mortar shopping.  A further 70% will shop online, but this increase only represents an +8 percentage point uplift year-on-year (YoY).

Despite ongoing fears about the COVID-19 pandemic prompting half (51%) of consumers to remain concerned about shopping in-store during Black Friday and in the run up to Christmas, 47% say they don’t intend to change their shopping frequency in-store when buying Christmas gifts, while a further 45% said they would make fewer but more purposeful visits to store.

Demand for click-and-collect is also set to rise during peak trading 2021, with +17 percentage points more UK shoppers vowing to use the service when Christmas shopping compared to last year, underscoring the continued importance for retailers to implement forward-looking, data-centric technologies that enable precision retail that can help predict consumer behaviours.

“We expect more contactless checkouts and unified commerce services like click-and-collect, this Christmas because health and safety is still paramount,” said Andy Sumpter, EMEA Retail Consultant at Sensormatic Solutions. “That means during this year’s peak trading period it’s more important than ever for retailers to adopt intelligent technology that allows them to leverage data from across the enterprise to meet consumers’ expectation of personalised, comfortable, seamless retail experiences – both in-store and online.”

Pricing, stock levels and covid safety protocols are top of mind for Christmas shoppers in-store

However, while demand for IRL (in real life) shopping experiences is set to rise over the festive period, the effects of the pandemic are stilling impact shoppers’ buying behaviours; price, stock availability and safety were the top three considerations for customers shopping in-store.

Price once again was the key factor when choosing to buy in-store for 65% UK shoppers – this constitutes a rise of +17 percentage points compared to 2020, indicating growing price sensitivity amidst the backdrop of the UK’s post-pandemic economic recovery.  And, with HGV driver shortages prompted both by the fallout of the pandemic and Brexit, stock availability was the top concern for 53%, who wanted to feel assured there wouldn’t be shelf gaps or out-of-stocks in-store when buying Christmas gifts.

Meanwhile, the issue of in-store safety hasn’t gone away; over a third (35%) said in-store COVID-19 protocols were a top consideration when visiting shops during peak trading.  However, the compulsory use of face masks in-store – regardless of national guidance – would make 34% more comfortable shopping in-store, followed by extended opening hours to prevent overcrowding (33%) and store occupancy levels limiting the numbers of shoppers allowed in-store at any one time to prevent overcrowding (28%).

To learn more about UK shopper trends, download Sensormatic’s its UK Retail: Shopper Sentiment Report

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