Price-sensitivity, supporting local retail and sustainability initiatives, and digitally-driven in-store experiences are among the new top demands of shoppers, as the consumer psyche has evolved and prompted retail to reset post-pandemic, the latest data from Sensormatic Solutions reveals.
Original research of over 1,000 UK shoppers in its latest report – ‘Retail Reset: 2 Years On’ – revealed that price remains the top consideration for consumers when choosing to shop in-store, as the UK faces rising levels of inflation and the cost of living squeeze tightens.
Price sensitivity prompts consumer caution on spending
Almost two thirds (74%) of those polled by Sensormatic cited price as the most important factor when choosing to shop in-store, rising +19 percentage points year-on-year (YOY), as the UK experiences record levels of inflation and the cost of food, fuel and energy continues to rise sharply.
With inflation jumping to a new 30 year high in February, over a third of shoppers (35%) said they were cutting back on spending, with 46% of those reducing their discretionary spend citing concerns about the rising cost-of-living, followed by 44% who felt they had less disposable income. Of the 12% who said they were now spending more than usual, 29% said they were choosing to buy now to beat future price hikes.
However, while price sensitivity is growing among UK shoppers, spending and brand loyalty were ‘stickier’ in-store. Over a third (34%) said they were less price sensitive when shopping in-store compared to when they bought items online, and half (50%) felt more loyal to the bricks-and-mortar brands they shop with compared to online retailers.
Sustainability drives green shoots of recovery
Sustainability-consciousness has grown among shoppers since the start of the pandemic, with almost two fifths (37%) saying they had become more committed to sustainability over the last two years, which has not only prompted a rising demand for green retailing, but a boom in more local shopping.
In the last six months, a third of shoppers (32%) now endeavor to shop locally, and a further 22% say they won’t travel long distances to shop, helping them to cut down on carbon and fuel emissions. Meanwhile a further 13% said hybrid working and more working-from-home was encouraging them to shop more locally, which has impacted the post-pandemic footfall recovery of larger cities including London.
Digital now drives shoppers’ in-store demands
The digital acceleration and adoption of ecommerce during the pandemic has seen ‘buy online, ship to home’, the most popular fulfilment service for 79%, rise by +10 percentage points YOY. However these now entrenched online shopping habits are making consumers even more digitally-motivated when it comes to their physical shopping journeys, prompting them to expect more blended on- and off-line experiences in-store.
Shoppers increasingly want digitally-driven, contact-free shopping experiences in-store; 55% said contactless, self-check-out capabilities would encourage them to shop physical stores, while 28% wanted Just Walk Out / Amazon Go capabilities to encourage them to shop more in bricks-and-mortar outlets. Meanwhile, a quarter (25%) said online services, such as click and collect, would also increase their likelihood of shopping in-store.
Andy Sumpter, Sensormatic’s EMEA Retail Consultant, commented: “While the seismic changes over the past 2 years has brought about challenges to retailers’ modus operandi, it has also brought about new and exciting opportunities that are reshaping the retail landscape and redefining how brands engage, convert and retain their customers. It’s clear there is consumer caution in the market, with shoppers feeling the pinch against a backdrop of macro-economic and geo-political uncertainty, however consumers continue to place value in the High Street and bricks-and-mortar retail. Now more than ever, the digitally-enabled store – underpinned by a desire among shoppers to shop locally and sustainably, and driven by their new digital-first demands – is creating new opportunities to acquire and keep new and existing customers.”
To find out more about how the last 2 years and the pandemic has altered the retail landscape and how the new shopper needs and habits are evolving, download the report.