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How COVID-19 is impacting shopping habits

Tom Bottomley
23 March 2020

A new consumer survey of 1,000 shoppers – undertaken between 14-15 March by CACI and Research Bods - has revealed some key changes in shopping behaviour and the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the high street, with local shops and online shopping gaining increased preference.

Key findings include that despite being more at risk, older groups are less likely to have moderated their behaviour as a result of the outbreak, compared to those aged between 25-34 being the most likely to have adapted.

Londoners and the Northern Irish are most likely to have changed behaviours, reflecting the more advanced stage of the pandemic in London and the greater proximity to actions in Ireland for the Northern Irish.

The biggest winners are local shops and retailers which offer online shopping, with more than half of consumers expected to increase their engagement in both channels.

COVID-19 retail

Source: CACI

Regional shopping centres, outlet malls and tourist destinations will be impacted the most, as shoppers believe crowds and retail stores are unsafe at the moment.

Commenting on the research, Alex McCulloch, director of CACI Property Consulting Group, said: “Our findings reflect that, despite the extraordinary times we are in, people are focused on coming out the other side. At these early stages, with government restrictions being put into place across the country, it can be difficult to see a positive light at the end of the tunnel, however, this is also a time of opportunity with the biggest winners being local shops and online shopping.

“The property and retail sector has the opportunity to capitalise on the rapid changes.  Retailers and landlords should be working together to deliver a cohesive community-led offer as well as sharing the risk.  When restrictions lift, the industry needs to listen and adapt to changing consumer trends, with 70% of shoppers believing they will return to previous patterns of behaviour, while 5% plan to increase their spend.”

The impact of the virus is likely to accelerate underlying consumer trends, including increased digital and social engagement, rising localism and local delivery, and a greater connection to community.

These evolving consumer trends will in turn accelerate industry trends, such as the merging of physical and digital, the growth of the online halo effect and the changing role of the store to connect the brand and customer.

Read the full report here.

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