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Christmas comes early as shopping habits change

22 September 2020

New research suggests that British consumers have radically altered the way they shop and, in a quest for bargains, many have already started to buy Christmas gifts.

A study of UK shopping habits by payment app Ubamarket suggests that Brits have dramatically changed the way they shop due to the coronavirus pandemic, with 50% of those polled saying they have stopped using cash altogether.

The survey suggests that:

  • 50% of people in Britain (over 23 million people) haven't used cash at all since the start of lockdown and have relied exclusively on;
  • 43% of Brits want their shopping experience to involve as little human interaction as possible;
  • 34% of Brits say that self-checkouts cause significant anxiety due to hygiene concerns and proximity to other shoppers;
  • 62% of Brits want to be able to complete their supermarket shop and exit the store in under 20 minutes.

As well as seeking safety and security, British shoppers are also increasingly looking for bargains. A recent survey by American Express suggests that 28% of Brits are planning to spend less this Christmas. To this end, 32% have already started their Christmas shopping, specifically to keep costs down. Four in ten are buying sales items to cut costs and 31% of people are taking advantage of deals and offers.

Will Broome, ceo of Ubamarket, said: "Our research clearly shows that the coronavirus pandemic has completely transformed the way in which British consumers want to purchase their goods. With so many making the decision to begin their Christmas shopping now, it is more important than ever that retailers and hospitality venues alike are able to encourage spending by boosting consumer confidence."

A new survey by ecommerce agency Melody suggests that these changes are widespread. Its findings show that the number of Brits who think their shopping habits have changed permanently has gone up from 60% in April to 81% in September. One in five (18%) say that when things return to normal, they will continue to buy items online that they would have previously bought on the high street.

However, independent retailers are also doing well, it seems, with 18% of shoppers saying that they shop at these stores more regularly now and 14% saying that they will continue to do so even after the pandemic is over.

Chris Cooper, planning director at Melody, said: "The recent surge towards ecommerce has transformed the UK's retail landscape. Brands that never previously thought about online shopping, or only viewed it as an afterthought, are having to invest massively in digital platforms … The data also shows that this isn't a one-time or short-term thing. Retailers are having to come to grips with years of advancement in online shopping that have taken place in a handful of months."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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