Pandemic Shopping Trends Set to Continue Over Christmas

The challenges of the past two years have prompted a major rethink in the way the UK public approach is its shopping habits. Specifically, the ecommerce sector saw an unprecedented spike throughout the course of the pandemic.

One that looks set to continue throughout the Christmas season and beyond, according to the latest figures.

Chaotic and Crowded High Streets Hold Little Appeal

Research conducted by Iterable - a cross-channel marketing platform - found that fewer consumers than ever before are planning on hitting the High Street this year. In fact, just 14% of those polled said that they would be doing most or all of their Christmas shopping in-person in traditional stores.

This represents a major shift from years gone by, when at least half the UK’s consumer population had every intention of hitting the High Street. Following the events of this year and last, a full 86% of people now plan on doing at least half of their Christmas shopping online.

Even if there are specific restrictions imposed between now and Christmas, most shoppers have no intention of perpetuating traditional High Street shopping habits.

Iterable also reported that almost half (48%) of all consumers in the UK will be doing no in-person shopping whatsoever this year. They plan on making all of their purchases online, without visiting so much as a single store.

“The pandemic has created a new status quo in retail, with customers far more willing to browse online than on the High Street,” commented EMEA director of marketing at Iterable, Elle Nadal.

“Brands need to adjust to this new reality, building memorable, consistent experiences for customers wherever they choose to shop.”

COVID-19 a Key Driving Force

The figures published by Iterable indicated that around 45% of consumers will be purchasing more via online channels this year than in 2020. Of those who took part in the poll, 42% said that the main determining factor behind their decision to shop online was COVID-19.

More broadly, Iterable reported that 56% of the consumers polled said that their attitudes towards Christmas shopping had been adversely affected by the events of the past two years.

However, the economic impact and lingering uncertainty associated with the pandemic appear not to be affecting UK consumers’ spending decisions.  According to the results of the survey, 51% of consumers intend to spend more money on gifts and general Christmas shopping this year than last.

A figure that suggests online retailers have every opportunity to make it a lucrative and profitable Christmas season, by adopting the right approach and gaining a competitive edge.

“Christmas this year will be more competitive than ever before,” Nadal added.

“Customers have an unprecedented array of choice at their fingertips, and brands will need to go the extra mile to stand out. A sure-fire way to get noticed? Build trust. Authentic messaging is a big draw for consumers, especially in the face of supply chain and pandemic uncertainty. People need a brand they can trust. By delivering on transparency, businesses will be sure to stand out to shoppers.”