Perhaps surprisingly, it is millennials who have been most likely to return to physical stores after non-essential retail opened in England on 12th of April.
A poll of 1,682 English consumers conducted by Opinium for Adyen finds that more than a third (35%) said they visited a non-essential retail outlet in the first week since stores re-opened. 18–34-year-olds were 11% more likely to visit physical stores than older shoppers.
Despite the perception that younger generations are most likely to shun physical stores, more than a third (34%) of millennials said that they missed non-essential in-store shopping while it was closed (same as the national average).
While the pandemic accelerated a shift to online shopping out of necessity, the research also shows positive signs for the future of the high street. 54% of Brits said they prefer to shop in physical stores, up from 50% in a similar study conducted by Adyen in June 2020.
The key for retailers to win customers over is to offer a great shopping experience across online and offline channels. More than two thirds (68%) of Brits say they will not shop with organisations if they had a bad experience either online or in store (an increase of 18% since June 2020). Meanwhile, 53% believe retailers need to do more to link their physical and online stores. As an example, 60% of consumers would be more loyal to a retailer if they were able to purchase an item that was out-of-stock in store and have it shipped directly to their home.
Retailers have used the time in lockdown to make changes to enhance the customer experience, which has not gone unnoticed by consumers. 24% of respondents saw retailers create links between physical and online stores, 22% noticed efforts to improve the in-store shopping experience, and 21% appreciated retailers using technology to reduce physical touchpoints.
Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director at Adyen comments: “The shift to online was accelerated by necessity and has won many people over – our research found two in five consumers say they will shop online more than they did prior to the pandemic. However, there is a case of absence making the heart grow fonder when it comes to physical retail. Experience is the key to realising this new opportunity. If the physical retail experience doesn’t add anything that consumers can’t get online, they will just shop where it is more convenient. But if a physical store offers something different, that excites the senses or creates engagement, they can be incredibly successful. The key is giving the consumer choice. Choice to engage in a physical store, to opt for the convenience of online, or have the ability to do both seamlessly. Retailers that can adapt to these consumer demands will be best placed to thrive beyond the pandemic and will help reinvigorate our high streets.”