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The impact of COVID-19 on shopper behaviour

With the relaxation of lockdown, many of us have tentatively made our way back to the shops for some non-essential shopping. However, the virus has changed both the face of retail and shopper behaviours in unprecedented ways.

Based on research Elephants Can’t Jump conducted earlier this year in addition to our current observations, here are four ways in which Covid-19 has impacted shopper behaviours:

  1. Online over in-store: Online shopping and direct to consumer offers have been on the rise for several years now, however during the peak of lockdown online retail channels became a lifeline for consumers in terms of non-essential goods. Consumers who preferred to shop in-store were forced to revert to their screens in order to access their desired goods. Our reliance on online channels is perhaps here to stay due to convenience, safety, new habits and the strange new in-store consumer experience. In many clothing shops for example, consumers can no longer try on clothes in the fitting rooms and may feel obliged to reduce our browsing time, which for some will reduce the joy of shopping.
  1. Responsible retail spaces: Arguably going into lockdown was simpler than coming out of it. During the most intense phase, we all knew the rules to be ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’. However, as society starts to attempt a return to ‘normal’ life, it is evident that individuals each have their own set of rules and feel comfortable doing things at different paces. Physical stores must accommodate to consumers’ sensibilities and this is essential for building consumer confidence and ensuring they are comfortable enough to keep on returning. From ample room for social distancing, one-way systems, hand sanitising stations, limited consumer numbers and physical barriers
  1. Less is more: During the peak of the pandemic, we as consumers were limited to what we could buy due to the inaccessibility of certain products. Consequently, this has caused many of us to reassess what we actually need to buy. This combined with economic uncertainty could lead to an increase in more responsible spending, and less mindless consumption of fast moving consumer goods.
  1. Conscious consumption: As consumers reassess what they need, many are also making more responsible choices when they do spend their money, such as choosing sustainable local, and/ or ethical brands. This is particularly poignant in Fashion where many brands with an ethical or sustainable focus have seen an increase in demand for their products. Moving forward brands should be looking to carve out their places within the new world order through ensuring that their value, such as mindfulness, kindness and sustainability, make their product or service a worthy purchase.
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