Life after lockdown: spending and shopping habits post-Covid-19.

Posted by Katie Allen on the 7th April, 2021
It comes as no surprise that after a year spent inside dreaming of a holiday, 27% of shoppers plan to spend more on travel after lockdown than they did before Covid. We know that humans are reward driven, and so after a hard year following restrictions, shoppers are ready to treat themselves to a well-deserved break.

As we pass the anniversary of the first lockdown, and begin to ease out of the third, we teamed up with Retail Week to explore shoppers’ post-lockdown shopping plans and spending priorities.

We’ve officially made it through a whole year of what felt like ever-changing restrictions! There’s no denying that retailers have been truly tested this year, with numerous transformations, quick decisions, and rapid adaptations to our evolving normality. So, as we approach the next milestone in the roadmap out of lockdown, and stores their doors on 12th April; but many will be wondering exactly what to anticipate as restrictions ease.

Are shoppers eager to splash the cash?
In our research for Retail Week, we see that over half of shoppers are planning to save money as lockdown ends, whilst only 14% want to splash the cash. Research from Understanding the Nation shows that over the past year the economic divide has widened with increasing negativity towards the general economic wellbeing of the country. In addition to many having personal finances impacted by Covid, uncertainty is driving many shoppers to have a more conservative outlook on spending, in what could be a pessimistic anticipation of the near future…

However, younger shoppers are keenest to make up for the lost shopping time, with 24% of 18–24-year-olds and 18% of 25-34-year-olds planning to splash their cash once shops reopen . We know that socialising is essential for human development. This social connection is vital for younger people to evolve a secure sense of identity and a place in their world. Consequently, after having their lives curtailed by lockdown, younger shoppers are yearning for social contact and a chance to get out of the house to live life to the fullest with others.

Looking deeper into areas where shoppers plan to splurge, 22% of shoppers plan to increase their spend in retail. However, it comes as no surprise that after a year spent inside dreaming of a holiday, 27% of shoppers plan to spend more on travel after lockdown than they did before Covid. We know that humans are reward driven, and so after a hard year following restrictions, shoppers are ready and waiting to treat themselves to a well-deserved reward. Particularly in the travel sector where there has been many cancelled travel plans, people have spent the year focusing on future holidays in a bid to avoid feelings of loss; resulting in them dreaming up even bigger and better plans than the ones they had to cancel!

Yet, as Retail Week reports, we also see no signs of home and DIY spending slowing down anytime soon; especially now the stamp duty holiday has driven a surge in house moves. After spending more time in their home than ever before, 26% of shoppers plan to increase spending on home and DIY than they did pre-Covid . Again, the younger shoppers are not left out, with Thierry Garner, CEO of Kingfisher mentioning the new generation of “young DIY-ers” which have helped boost pre-tax profit by 44%, and jump sales to £12.3bn over the past financial year.

What shopping destinations are top of the list?
As Retail Week reports, the closure of stores pushed people to move their shopping habits online, with the Office for National Statistics reporting online sales growing from 19.2% to 27.9% of total retail sales over the course of 2020. Shoppers don’t seem to be turning back now, with 28% of shoppers reporting plans to spend more online this year than before Covid.

Another trend that appears to be staying in our new normal is shopping local to support the community. In our research, a quarter of shoppers expressed plans to increase their spend in their local high street stores after lockdown. Over the course of the pandemic we have seen a boost in altruistic thinking with a stronger desire to feel useful and help others. With the government’s push to stay local, we are more community aware and focused than ever before. When shoppers choose to spend in local stores, they feel that they’re supporting the local community and are making a real impact on the shop owner’s life. This boost of positivity is eagerly welcomed in such an uncertain time.

Are shoppers still hesitant to return to stores?
In comparison to last May, we have also seen that shoppers are feeling significantly more comfortable to return to stores when they reopen in April. As Retail Week reports, this is likely due to the removal of the uncertainty that existed at the end of the first lockdown, with many shoppers having adjusted to the increased safety restrictions and knowing what’s instore for their shopping experience.

In our research, almost half of shoppers now feel comfortable going into a high street store, whilst 39% feel comfortable going into a shopping centre.

In line with them being keen to splash the cash, the younger shoppers also demonstrate the largest increase in feeling comfortable to return to both the high street and the shopping centre.

Meanwhile, older shoppers still display hesitancy to return despite the progress in the vaccine rollout. Yet when exploring satisfaction with Covid safety measures, older shoppers are more likely to agree that retailers have done a good job of making their stores Covid Safe. Perhaps this is due to the heightened risk and vulnerability driving older shoppers to actively look out for, and remember, what measures are in place to ensure their safety. We know from Behavioural Science how important social proof is, and the impact that reassurance of like-minded individuals can have; to encourage those who are still hesitant, communicating that people are returning to stores could be key to welcoming them back.

What retailers are shoppers excited to return to?
After being kept away from visiting their favourite stores for so long, many shoppers have a long list of retailers they can’t wait to visit!

In our research with Retail Week, we found that Primark is the top store that shoppers are keen to return to, which may be unsurprising given they have no online offering. Among the older shoppers, we see that M&S is most anticipated, with Primark in second place.

Again, the 18–34-year-olds express higher levels of excitement to visit any retail. This suggests that younger shoppers really are eagerly awaiting the end of lockdown to go out and splash their cash!

In conclusion…
As the third lockdown comes to an end, the re-opening of stores provides a glimmer of hope for a sense of normality once again. But there are many areas of change and uncertainty that insight can help make clear. Just a few opportunities for brands looking to successfully emerge from lockdown include…:

– As the majority of Brits don’t want to splash their cash, online communities can explore why people are planning to save, in addition to investigating what could be done to convince them to get out and get spending!

– With a huge emphasis on digital as the top shopping destination despite stores reopening, UX texting can ensure your online touchpoints and shop window are optimised for digital shoppers.

– If you’re dialling up advertising and content marketing to get customers back in store, ensure your comms are optimised with ad and media testing enhanced by neuro and behavioural science. Or, make sure the tone of your messages aligns with the mood of the nation with emotion-led insights from ‘Understanding the Nation‘.

If any of these opportunities appeal to your, get in touch!

Meet the Author: Katie Allen
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