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Heavy drinking, lower spending and more sustainable living: how shoppers see the future of retail

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UK has increased its drinking by more than any other country – and will continue to imbibe
UK has increased its drinking by more than any other country – and will continue to imbibe
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UK shoppers keen to get back to normal – but that means drinking at home, buying less and being more sustainably minded

With as many as 90% of UK consumers keen to ‘get back to normal’, a study of what they think that will look like reveals that most will be spending less, are looking for more sustainable ways to live and have dramatically increased their alcohol intake over the past few months.

 

The insights come from a study by GlobalWebIndex, which has been monitoring every few weeks shopper attitudes across 20 countries, and find that, while the level of concern about the pandemic has dropped slightly in May, three quarters of shoppers now believe the affects of the pandemic on life in generally will last six months or more.

 

Across the 20 countries surveyed, just over half of consumers now say they will return to shops immediately, very quickly, or quite quickly – and in the UK this increases to 59%. However, behaviours boosted during the pandemic could become new habits; almost 1 in 3 plan to shop online more frequently after the outbreak.

 

In addition, two thirds of UK consumers expect the pandemic to have an impact on their personal finances. As a result, consumers are delaying big-ticket purchases (66%) and 20% are looking to reduce their regular financial commitments for example by cancelling subscriptions and memberships.

 

The majority of UK consumers are in favour of getting back to ‘normal’ though, with 9 in 10 saying this is important. 85% place importance on cafes, bars and restaurants being able to reopen and 6 in 10 think it’s important sports leagues and competitions resume. However, consumers remain much more reticent about returning to large indoor venues (30%) or large outdoor venues (27%).

 

Social distancing measures (64%), regular cleaning / disinfecting (60%), restrictions on the numbers allowed inside venues (49%) and provision of hand sanitizer (47%) are the biggest priorities for UK consumers in public places.

 

Jason Mander, Chief Research Officer, GlobalWebIndex comments: “People expect shops to be able to better manage their safety concerns and are yet to be convinced that similarly adequate measures could be put in place in larger venues where crowds would typically be bigger. These safety concerns coupled with a need to reduce spending, means many consumers expect to cut back on their out-of-home leisure moments. 31% think after the outbreak is over they will eat out at restaurants less often, about a third plan to visit bars/pubs less often, and about a fifth think they will visit fast-food outlets or the cinema less frequently. Demonstrating the challenge that out-of-home leisure providers will need to face in terms of encouraging people back to venues.”

 

Sustainability is key

While climate change campaigners have said that pre-coronavirus momentum could be lost, sentiment from consumers across 20 countries shows sustainability is set to enjoy heightened importance even in light of the pandemic.

 

In the UK, half say it will be important that companies behave more sustainably. Meanwhile, 45% think it will be more important than before to reduce their personal usage of single-use plastic, and the same proportion feel there will be heightened importance on reducing their personal carbon footprint / environmental impact. Across each of these areas, less than 10% think they will be less important than previously.

 

Mander, says: “There have been questions about whether some might feel less compelled to reduce their single-use plastic consumption after it played a vital role in some aspects of the coronavirus response. However unlike previous economic downturns, sustainability isn’t thrown to the side in the spirit of cost-savings. It’s being kept alive as part of a pathway back to profitability. Consumers have seen benefits of being environmentally conscious during the “lockdown” – from the advantages of shopping locally and supporting businesses in their area, to the reported drops in pollution. With “lockdown” having been very challenging and stressful for many, they will want to celebrate any perceived benefits. ”

 

Drinks all round – but not in the pub

Although almost a third of UK consumers plan to visit bars and pubs less often after the pandemic, across the 20 countries surveyed 14% feel that their overall alcohol consumption levels have actually increased during the crisis.

 

The UK (19%), Ireland (18%), the U.S. (17%), New Zealand (17%) and Brazil (17%) are the places where people are most likely to feel they have drunk more alcohol overall.

 

Millennials in the UK (21%) and the top income group (28%) are most likely to think their consumption has increased. Also, 11% in the UK think they’ve drunk alcohol at times of the day they wouldn’t normally.

 

New types and brands of alcohol have been discovered during the lockdown period. Some 10% say they’ve tried new brands, with a similar proportion reporting they have tried new types. In both cases, the figures peak among Millennials and the top income group.

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