Continued demand for in-store shopping during the holidays

New research from Elavon reveals UK consumers plan to shop in-store to support local economies.

New research from global payments company Elavon and Ipsos MORI indicate a strong demand for visits to shops for holiday shopping this year. Eight in ten (82%) of over one thousand people polled in the UK suggest they want to shop in-person with nearly a third (31%) saying a major influence on their decision is to support the local economy.

During this challenging time for retailers, consumers cited clear benefits for supporting ‘bricks over clicks’:

  • 38% of people said going to an actual shop makes buying things quicker and easier because they can see the physical items.
  • 33% cited the benefit of assessing quality there and then, possibly without the hassle of potentially going through a returns process.
  • 28% want to take advantage of in-store offers and promotions.
  • (One in five) 22% claimed visiting shops was more convenient for last-minute shopping than going online.
  • (One in ten) 12% were keen on the social side of shopping or shopping with others.

While the high street can take some comfort from these findings, caution should also be applied as people expect to reduce their spending in 2020 – 48% plan to spend less, 38% predict their budget to remain the same, and 10% expect to increase expenditure.

The age group most likely to increase spending is the youngest – 26% of 16 to 24-year-olds, reflecting a redistribution of their budgets as many had spent less on social activities during the restrictions. In comparison, one in ten (11%) of those aged 25-34 and 35-44, 3% of 45-54 year-olds, and 5% of those aged 55-75 plan to spend more.

The reasons for the drop in spending vary. With the impact of COVID-19, 41% reported a reduction of household income. Some 36% predicted that holiday celebrations will be smaller this year; a prediction made before the latest COVID-19 restrictions were announced.

The research, though, is unequivocal in its advice for retailers to gain footfall:

  • Make sure health and safety measures are enforced (46%).
  • Provide hand sanitiser (41%).
  • Stay open for longer to make it more convenient for customers (27%).
  • Offer social distancing / contactless features such as ‘scan and go’ (no till shopping) (23%).
  • Offer quiet hours for those shielding (24%).

Online shopping for the holidays continues to remain crucial. For retailers to capture eCommerce market share, consumers expressed a clear desire for efficient delivery and returns. Nearly half (47%) cited reliable delivery, 44% are motivated by free returns labels and 43% by free returns packaging when shopping online.

Since the onset of COVID-19, Elavon has supported Small-to-Medium-sized businesses by increasing contactless payment limits on terminals, providing eCommerce solutions and other payment methods options to enable trading.

Simon Tune, Commercial Director at Elavon Europe said: “This is hopefully good news for retailers in one of the most challenging trading environments to date. The appetite to support the local economy is strong, and the advice from consumers for retailers to prioritise health and safety is clear. While online shopping continues to remain vital as the pandemic continues to evolve, this research reminds us that people have an emotional bond with our high streets and physical retail.”

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