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EDITORIAL How shoppers are changing their habits – for good

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Digital shoppers: many will be keeping in local too
Digital shoppers: many will be keeping in local too
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Shoppers are already looking to local stores and online under lockdown – and many pledge that they are going to stick with local when this is all over

As we roll through week five of lockdown, more data is coming to light on how consumers have changed their shopping habits – and just how ‘changed’ they are set to be once this is all over.

 

Research from Barclaycard and further studies by Astound Commerce and Lovethesales.com all point to radical changes in shopping behaviour, driven by the changed circumstances in which shoppers find themselves. They also suggest, too, that these new-found ways of buying might just stick – at least for a while.

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, research by Astound Commerce suggests that ecommerce has of course surged in popularity, rocketing up some 120% since March across the UK and Europe.

 

But there are other more subtle changes within this. Ecommerce is only the start of what is increasingly becoming a ‘contactless’ shopping phenomenon, says the study. Shoppers want to buy online, get rapid fulfilment and then pick up from road-side of an un-manned collection point ASAP.

 

These new expectations of what the shopping experience means obviously dovetail with the current need to keep one’s distance, but also are likely to shape how ecommerce and delivery work in the future. Perhaps the days of delivery drivers knocking on the door are gone for good?

 

This has some interesting consequences for retailers, not least security and fraud prevention. It also could be a quicker and time (and money) saving way to do ‘the last mile’ in the years ahead.

 

Another trends that is emerging is that of local shopping. With people not clear on when they can or can’t go out or if they can use their cars, more shoppers are turning to local shops to get what they are looking for – and they like what they get.

 

Research from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, finds that half (55%) of consumers want to increase their support of nearby businesses as a result of the lockdown – primarily by visiting local shops and markets when they can do so again.

 

Similarly, a survey of 1,646 adults by YouGov looking at people’s shopping habits since lockdown began, shows that corner shops are a fundamental part of life under lockdown, with the majority of the UK (80%) viewing corner shops as an essential service.

 

With people struggling to get delivery slots from their local supermarket and with the same people not wanting to go to large shops full of other people, there has been a move to keeping it local.

 

Not only are the corner shops back in vogue, but farm shops and other local suppliers are all becoming the places people want to shop.

 

A new website – shoppingslots.co.uk – has launched to try and connect shoppers to delivery slots, but this will only go some way towards stopping this local shift. The slots simply aren’t there.

 

Shoppingslots, incidentally, is also looking for local shops to join in and offer deliveries. Together, this shift to local and the use of delivery and collection is going to be a fundamental and long-lasting change to the way retail works.

 

This all points to some fundamental shifts in online and omni-channel retail. If current trends persist – and those quizzed by Barclaycard suggest that they want to continue to support their local businesses when this is all over. Local grocers, butchers and other stores have come up trumps in many towns, offering delivery and have been a lifeline to many elderly and vulnerable people. That loyalty is likely to be paid back in the months ahead when lockdown ends.

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