Global Shopper Confidence Surging as Post-Pandemic ‘New Normal’ Settles in

  • Four in five (80%) consumers feel ‘comfortable’ returning to physical stores, up from 71% in 2020
  • Shopping in-store feels good again for more than half of the global consumers (54%) with one-third of them (33%) declaring it feels ‘really good’ 
  • 60% of consumers say they expect their shopping habits to be back to pre-pandemic levels by or before the end of 2021
  • Social aspect of shopping with friends and significant others is the second most missed experience about physical shopping (35%)
  • Ability to feel, touch and try products continues to rank as number one reason to buy in-store vs. online (at 59%) followed by the instant gratification of taking purchases home (51%) and browsing and discovering new things (45%)
  • Fashion and clothing sales drive shoppers back to stores in the UK with 30% placing apparel as their top pick for returning to the high street

Shoppers are beginning to return to physical stores in significant numbers as pandemic measures lift around the world, according to a new global research report by Mood Media, the on-premise media solutions company dedicated to elevating the customer experience. The report, titled “Shopper Sentiments: A June 2021 Global Mood Survey,” found that four out of five (80%) consumers now feel either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very comfortable’ visiting physical stores, up from 71% in 2020.

Three in five (60%) consumers surveyed expect their shopping habits to be back to pre-pandemic levels by or before the end of this year, while one-fifth (21%) of respondents report their shopping habits have already returned to pre-pandemic levels. These encouraging findings and predictions for physical stores are bolstered by the fact that only 5% of respondents across the U.S., UK, China and France reported not feeling ‘comfortable at all’ about returning to stores.

Scott Moore, Global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Mood Media, said: “We’re experiencing a healthy buzz as shops reopen to a ‘new normal’ throughout the world. Consumers are eager to get back into stores to experience the joy of shopping again. This new study validates what we are seeing and hearing every day – both online and offline play an important role in retail, oftentimes in harmony with one another. That balance is now returning with solid foot traffic in shops around the world.”

A follow-up to Mood Media’s Shopper Sentiments: A September 2020 Global Mood Survey, this new study was carried out by Censuswide and surveyed more than 8,000 consumers across four major markets – the U.S., UK, China and France.

Key UK findings:

  • A boost in confidence – In 2020, the UK was the most cautious of markets surveyed about returning to the physical retail space. However, confidence has since jumped from 62% to 76% with three in every four shoppers now feeling ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ comfortable visiting physical stores. Only 7% of UK respondents reported not feeling ‘comfortable at all’ about returning to stores. 18% reported feeling ‘not very comfortable’ doing so
  • Fashion and clothing sales are driving shoppers back to stores – UK consumers say they missed fashion and clothes stores the most (30%) when closed, with almost half of women (43%) and 16% of men saying clothing is their top pick for returning to the high street. This was followed by shopping malls (27%) and department stores (21%) as the most missed shops
  • Physical shopping experiences entice consumers in-store – Revealing what is driving consumers to shop in-store over online, more than half (54%) of UK respondents say it’s the ability to ‘touch, feel and try’ items on the spot. The instant gratification of bringing purchases home immediately (48%), followed by the ability to browse and discover new things (45%) are enticing consumers back in-store, along with in-person shopping being more leisurely and social (27%)
  • The UK is the least optimistic group about returning shopping habits – Less than half (46%) believe that their shopping habits will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021 (compared to 64% on average elsewhere) and 14% say they don’t expect their shopping habits to ever return to normal. Only 11% of UK respondents say they are ‘already back to normal’, compared to 25% elsewhere.

Revealing what global shoppers have missed most about the physical shopping experience during lockdown – largely pointing to benefits that don’t exist when shopping online – nearly half (45%) said it was the experience of ‘touching and trying on’ items on the spot that they missed most when stores were closed.

The fun and social experience of shopping with friends and significant others is the second most missed aspect of physical shopping (35%), tied with the opportunity to bring the purchase home immediately at 35% as well.

Consumers have also enjoyed the merging of physical and digital, with a third (33%) of them citing plans to continue using Click and Collect/BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) services beyond the pandemic, with U.S. consumers above the global average at 38%.

Globally, most consumers (84%) say there is no significant difference in the amount of money they are currently spending compared to before the pandemic.

However, after over 15 months of global uncertainty, the data also indicates that consumer spending overall is on the rise. The percentage of global respondents reporting an uptick in their spending compared to before the pandemic has increased from 23% in September 2020 to 29% in June 2021. Unfortunately, the UK is behind the average at 24%, up from 19% in 2020.

The percentage of consumers reporting they are spending less has also gone down, from 38% in 2020 to 25% today, while those citing spending the same as before the pandemic has increased from 40% to 46%.Again, the UK is slower to respond, with  30% citing they are spending less than before, down from 42% in 2020. However, in terms of UK consumers who cite they are spending the same as before the pandemic, the UK is in line with the global average at 46%.

Moore added: “The pandemic placed pressure on stores to innovate at a faster pace, leading to an accelerated ‘phygital’ evolution which merges the physical and digital shopping experience. The survey highlights key phygital trends that will be a focus for retailers and the customer journey beyond the here and now. Consumers have told us they want Click and Collect and Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store options to continue well beyond the pandemic. And in China, we’re seeing longevity in the future of virtual try-ons and QR codes.

“The figures generally show positive sentiment across all four countries surveyed. While some reservations remain with regard to safety measures, people are generally voting with their feet and their wallets. We’re delighted that we appear to be approaching the end of a fairly grim 15 months, and life seems to be improving for the retail sector as a whole.”

For a full overview of Mood Media’s latest survey findings and to download the booklet, visit https://moodmedia.com/gb/2021-shopper-sentiments

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