Increased compliance and pent-up demand to shop for Christmas have led to second lockdown having much less impact on consumer movements, CACI finds

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The latest movement of people data from CACI and its data partner, Location Sciences, has identified that increased compliance and pent-up demand to shop for Christmas have led to the second lockdown having much less of an impact on consumer movements than its predecessor.

Data for the week ending 15 November, the first full week of Lockdown 2.0, reveals consumer mobility at 61% compared to the same period in 2019.  Significantly, this contrasts with 32% for the week ending 5 April this year, the first full week in which non-essential stores were closed in Lockdown 1.0.

The two factors driving the difference are the increased willingness of consumers becoming more comfortable in public spaces, provided they comply with Covid-19 measures and the need to Christmas shop.

Alex McCulloch, director of CACI, said: “As England prepares to join Wales in an easing of restrictions, growing consumer comfort in shops and public space is encouraging for the government and retailers alike. Consumers now have clear perceptions of risk, and recognise that maintaining space for social distancing and the wearing of face coverings are the norm.”

This is a crucial finding as, unlike April, the UK is entering the peak shopping period of the year. Previous research from CACI showed that £3bn of consumer spend will be held back in anticipation of shops re-opening on 2 December.

The impact of compliance on consumer behaviour is reflected in the types of places people are shopping in Lockdown 2.0. Shopping parks were at 63% mobility during the week ending November 15, versus 31% in Lockdown 1.0. Similarly, retail parks were at 67% compared to 39%, and local malls at 70% versus 40% in Lockdown 1.0.

McCulloch continued: “Covid-19 and the resulting lockdowns are changing consumer preferences when it comes to the places people shop. Shopping parks, retail parks and local malls are all performing better in Lockdown 2.0 due to their mixed offerings, typically combining convenience with open-air designs, free parking and historically strong click and collect offers. We anticipate this trend will continue, albeit that regional malls will return to popularity given the range of choice, ease of access and abundance of parking they provide.”

The need to spend was further evidenced by the pre-lockdown spike in mobility, particularly at destinations centres such as regional malls, outlet centres and shopping parks. In the days immediately before Lockdown 2.0 for example, mobility rose to 86% of 2019’s levels at regional malls, dropping to just 26% during the week ending 15 November.