The recent Budget announcement, with news of extended furlough and further financial support, will have provided consumers with even more certainty around their present and future finances. 30% of consumers believe that they will be better off financially in a year, even before the Budget was announced, and those who think they will be worse off is now at its lowest level (17%) since the pandemic began.
Three basic needs - a holiday, a haircut and a day out
Consumers want a return to normal and are likely to focus their initial spending on three basic needs – a holiday, a haircut and a day out. 43% plan on spending more on a holiday post-COVID-19, up from 31% in October. 29% plan on spending more on personal care services, nearly double the October figure of 17%. And 37% are planning on spending more on out-of-home recreational services (versus 26% in October).
It’s not just what they want to buy but also where that spend takes place that must be considered. Consumers are increasingly looking forward to a return to store. The proportion of consumers planning to shop online for items they previously bought in-store has fallen: from its peak of 46% in June 2020 to 38% in February 2021.
A need to improve the online experience
Part of this is due to the desire to return to the social aspect of shopping in-store. But the fall is also born of increasing frustration with the online experience and the fact that it doesn’t offer the immediacy and control of physical stores.
This is critical for retailers to acknowledge. Customers have shifted online, and behaviours have changed for good, but tolerance of the challenges of online ordering that were evident at the start of the pandemic has since diminished.
What were niggles are now full-blown pain points. 50% of consumers say that they are frustrated with expensive deliveries, 28% by slow deliveries and 25% by not being able to easily find what they are after.
These frustrations are particularly evident in the grocery sector where almost half (49%) of consumers say they don’t shop online because they have less control over purchases, and only just over 1 in 10 (11%) believe grocery websites are better than physical stores.
The omnichannel experience will continue to be critical
The balance of store and online will continue to be important for shoppers that research and buy across channels, although its importance varies according to category. For example, 43% of beauty and cosmetics consumers who buy online will have browsed in-store first, while 57% of consumers who buy technology in-store have researched online first. This means that making it easy for consumers to browse on one channel and purchase in another channel will be critical to success.