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Consumers shopping with caution but outlook for post-pandemic retail “positive”

Tom Bottomley
11 December 2020

The latest research from Capgemini has revealed that UK shoppers are showing caution in their Christmas spending so far, with 38% of consumers having spent less on holiday shopping than they did last year.

But there’s potentially a light at the end of the tunnel for traditional in-store retail. While the preference for in-store shopping on Black Friday dropped from 39% last year to 28% this year, the latest findings from Capgemini suggest shoppers are “missing the in-store experience.”

An encouraging 63% of consumers would like to return to their previous shopping habits once the pandemic is over, with 59% stating that they “miss shopping in-store.”

However, consumers don’t want the innovations that retailers introduced during the pandemic to be forgotten. New technologies which were brought in to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, such as contactless payments and self-service kiosks, encouraged 44% of shoppers to venture in-store. Now, three in five (60%) want these technologies to remain in the future.

Interestingly 33% of consumers have been prioritising clothing purchases and 27% have been focusing on beauty/personal care products.

While spending might be down over all, consumers have been embracing online shopping, with 48% having so far shopped more online this festive season than ever before. And almost a quarter (24%) say they have purchased more locally produced goods than in previous years – a positive post-Brexit sign, perhaps.

The online shopping trend is set to continue, as more than a quarter of consumers surveyed (26%) had never shopped online before the pandemic, and 45% are now “more comfortable with this format,” while 48% say they will shop online more in future.

Tim Bridges, Global Head of Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini, said: “2020 has been a year of extraordinary disruption, but physical retail has a long-standing place in the hearts of consumers and our research shows that they will return to stores when they feel it is safe to do so, but the pandemic has also exposed retail to new customers who hadn’t previously shopped online.

“Whether shopping returns to a version of the old normal or embraces the new, retailers must continue to innovate and evolve to create experiences for consumers that feel safe, convenient and personal – whether online or in-store.”

With prudence top of mind for consumers, almost a third (28%) cite discounts as the most influential factor when making a purchase - nudging people to buy something “they hadn’t planned to.” And 15% are yet to buy something “in the hope of a better deal soon.” Notably 57% have been swung by free shipping options this year.

The latest Capgemini data refers to a consumer survey conducted between 30 November – 2 December, 2020, across some 7,543 consumers in the UK, US, Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark by Sapio, on behalf of Capgemini. Interviews were conducted online using an email invitation and an online survey.

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