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Three ways Covid-19 has affected customers’ shopping behaviour, at Christmas 2020 and beyond RESEARCH

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How has shopping behaviour changed as a result of lockdown and what does that mean for Christmas shopping in 2020? We have a look at the latest research and at what their findings suggest. 

Half of shoppers plan to do more Christmas shopping online this year

Half of shoppers (50%) say they plan to do more of their Christmas shopping online this year, and more than a quarter (28%) are still staying away from the high street after shops reopened from Covid-19 lockdown, according to a new study from ecommerce platform Channel Advisor and research firm Dynata. The two surveyed 1,022 UK adults in September and compared the findings to similar surveys in June and May. 

They found that 60% said they were still buying online more often than they did before Covid-19, while 30% felt too nervous to shop in-store. In June, 28% of shoppers said they felt nervous about buying in-store, showing little change in attitudes since then. 

Of those that had gone into stores, 39% said they’d had to queue, and 37% said it was less convenient than before Covid.

The study also found that shoppers were now window shopping online, with 31% using Facebook and 25% using Instagram to research products – rising to 56% and 49% respectively among those aged between 18 and 25. Just under half (45%) said they started their online shopping on Amazon before looking elsewhere, while 85% of all online shoppers had used Amazon to research since March, and 63% planned to do most of their Christmas shopping on the site, while 70% will check prices there.

Vladi Shlesman, managing director, EMEA at ChannelAdvisor, said: “As peak shopping season approaches and high street hesitation persists, ecommerce continues to offer a valuable lifeline for retailers and brands. 2020 has redefined the shopping experience for many and even the idea of window shopping has changed. Even many intending to visit a shop are likely to research products on digital channels first and this creates opportunities for those digital brands that can offer a convenient online buying experience and highlight potential spontaneous purchases. Shoppers have become more adventurous online and this is the ideal time for brands to match this by experimenting with different approaches across digital channels.”

Shoppers will spend less on Christmas

More than two-thirds (70%) of UK shoppers plan to spend less on Christmas presents this year, as a result of concerns around both the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing economic uncertainty, according to study from PR agency Kaizo, which questioned 1,000 UK adults.

Some 86% of UK shoppers said they would be more cautious, with 71% changing their shopping habits. More than three quarters (78%) said they would not start their Christmas shopping until the beginning of December, while 26% said they were too worried about the pandemic to think about Christmas shopping. Online, 30% said they would look at a product featured on Facebook, with 51% of those aged 35 to 54 set to use Facebook for research. More than a quarter (27%) would be affected by an influencer’s Instagram story. 

Rhodri Harries, managing director of Kaizo, said: “Given the circumstances Given the circumstances, it’s understandable that shoppers will make more considered purchases this Christmas. It’s clear that trust in the media will play a fundamental role in Christmas shopping purchase decisions, more so this year than ever before. With Covid-19 making this a very cautious Christmas in so many ways, brands – especially those in the consumer electronics sector – will need to be more prominent than ever across media channels. 

“This year more than ever, customers will be paying close attention to the ‘must have gifts’ featured in newspapers, TV programs, magazines, and showcased by influencers – and acting upon these recommendations.’”

Shopping habits have changed for good post-Covid

Most Uk shoppers (81%) now say their shopping habits have changed for good, post-Covid, according to a study by ecommerce agency Melody that questioned more than 2,000 UK adults three times over the last five months – the last in September. In April, 60% thought their habits had changed for good. 

One key change is to online shopping: 18% – and 25% of over-55s – say they will buy products online that they would previously have bought on the high street. Seven per cent said they would shop online more during working hours, and 10% say they will shop more online outside working hours – up from 7% in April. Twenty per cent said they would shop more often on Amazon – up from 17% in June and 12% in April. Finally, 18% said they would buy on the high street or in shops less often. That’s up from 10% in June and 9% in April. 

Chris Cooper, planning director at Melody, said: “The recent surge towards ecommerce has transformed the UK’s retail landscape. Brands that never previously thought about online shopping, or only viewed it as an afterthought, are having to invest massively in digital platforms. Online marketplaces like Amazon provide convenience, speed and simplicity, but also allow people to shop without the hassles of face masks and public transport.

“The data also shows that this isn’t a one-time or short-term thing. Retailers are having to come to grips with years of advancement in online shopping that have taken place in a handful of months. A number of big-name high street brands have already fallen by the wayside because shoppers have utterly changed how they think and behave. Those that remain will have to double down on their online efforts.”

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