52% of shoppers will go in store for the glitz of Christmas only if checkout queues aren’t too long, Aptos finds

Aptos, a recognised market leader in retail technology solutions, today announced the findings of its 2020 Golden Quarter Consumer Survey. The research shows that despite the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers in the United Kingdom are still keen to spend both online and on the high street.

The survey of 2,000 adults across the U.K. sought to identify consumers’ shopping habits and preferences in the Golden Quarter, the retail sales period that runs from November to January.

Whilst the findings of the survey were largely positive when it comes to consumers’ spending intentions, the research also reflected their lingering concerns around the ability to shop safely in store. Whilst sanitisation, capacity limits, appropriate signage and hygiene standards have been common practice since nonessential retail stores reopened after the first lockdown, retailers need to work extra hard to reassure shoppers that the right measures are in place during the festive period rush.

Consumers’ top five concerns for shopping in store during COVID-19:

  1. Crowded store (74%).
  2. Long checkout queues (69%).
  3. Lack of social distancing measures (68%).
  4. Lack of hygiene measures (62%).
  5. Cluttered store that makes it hard to socially distance (62%).

As nonessential retailers in England prepare to welcome consumers back into shops on the second of December, retailers that can instil confidence in the safety measures they are taking will have the most productive peak trading period. For 49% of consumers, Aptos’ research found that knowing that these precautions have been implemented would be enough to encourage them back into a store.

When it comes to other factors that will encourage U.K. consumers back into physical stores, Aptos’ Golden Quarter research found the following motivations: 

The in-store appeal: what drives shoppers to the high street

  • Approximately three quarters of consumers say they’re interested in using click and collect during the Golden Quarter.
  • 52% could be encouraged into stores by seasonal decorations and displays.
  • Around half of shoppers indicated they like being able to see and handle items, and to go home with the goods they’ve bought.
  • 48% of consumers would be persuaded to shop in store rather than online because of better in-store discounts and offers.
  • 48% are looking for popups and other temporary stores carrying items they wouldn’t normally get to see. 

The online imperative: effective stock management and delivery excellence

When it comes to building and maintaining consumers’ trust in online shopping channels this Golden Quarter, Aptos’ research found that retailers must focus on meeting expectations for stock availability and delivery timeliness.

During Golden Quarter buying, 53% of consumers worry about deliveries taking longer than normal this year and 46% worry about stock limitations or items being out of stock. Savvy retailers will doubtless have learned from their lockdown experiences that an effective order management solution and omnichannel strategy are critical. Above all, retailers need to communicate clearly with their customers throughout the end-to-end order management process.

Christmas is coming, come what may

‘Whilst 2020 has been unpredictable and unprecedented in many ways, when it comes to the festive season, consumers are quite clear in what they expect of retailers and what will make them feel most confident when shopping in store and online’, said Richard Willis, RVP Solution Consulting, EMEA & APAC, Aptos.

‘Implementing social distancing, hygiene measures and extended opening hours — and proactively communicating those initiatives to shoppers — is a basic requirement for encouraging people into brick-and-mortar stores’, he continued. ‘And some of the shifts in consumer behaviour caused by the pandemic — such as the increased popularity of click and collect and online buying — may well be here to stay.

‘To keep pace with short- and long-term changes, retailers need to infuse greater agility into their organisations and continuously adapt to shopping behaviours. In retail’s new normal, the only way forward is through digital and omnichannel transformation’, said Willis.