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EDITORIAL How shopper habits have shifted as they respond to cost-of-living

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It’s not just the UK government that is in a state of flux, the way consumers shop has already changed, presenting yet more challenges to retailers. As the cost-of-living crunch continues to clamp its maw around shoppers, there are already spreading signs that the way they spend has already changed – and that more shifts are yet to come. 

A consumer study finds this week that shoppers are already becoming very careful about what they spend and where and are set to have one of the most frugal Christmases since the early 1970s. The study finds that just a quarter of those surveyed are feeling positive about the festive season, while the number of people feeling very negative about Christmas (14%) was almost five times higher than this time last year.

A separate study this week goes on to show that two thirds are waiting until Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) to make certain purchases in the run up to Christmas, with 75% looking for bargains. However, much of their spend will be driven by value for money with brands they trust.

While December is some way off – and we are yet to see what PM Truss and company offer in the way of easement (and what impact that may have on confidence) – it is already looking likely that spending this season will be down overall, targeted more at kids and perhaps food and that brands and retailers need to start thinking right now about how to best target consumers so that they stand out from the competition.

Lessons can already be learned by what consumers are doing right now. Data from Argos reveals that this week consumers have been manically buying air fryers, slow cookers and new, more efficient kettles, in a bid to cut energy costs. According to the retailer, it sold 1.6 million air fryers last week and kettle sales were up 18% – that’s Boris Jonson’s legacy right there. 

More holistically, shoppers are now driven by a combination of factors when it comes to choosing where to shop. According to data, they want efficiency, expertise and emotion from the brands they buy from – with these factors balanced squarely against value for money. 

This is playing through into real world retail already. Crew Clothing has invested heavily in real-time data gathering and analysis, so that it can beat its competitors to the punch when reaching out to sell. Similarly, Boots has created its own marketplace – or is in the process of doing so, it will be ready in Spring 2023 – to rapidly expand its product range. 

These two retailers are prime examples of how rapidly retailers need to change how they engage their customers and what they sell them – something that is going to become ever-more crucial as the economic story unfolds. 

This is one of the key themes at the first ChannelX World, taking place on October 13 in London. The new event offers retailers, brands and marketplaces a timely chance to explore the vital new channels that customers today want to buy through – from marketplaces, to social media and, looking to the future, the metaverse. 

Speakers hail from an array of brands including M&S, LK Bennett, Amazon, Debenhams, Boohoo, eBay, TikTok and many more. Click here to find out more and to register for the event.

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