Britons will return to the high street when non-essential retail reopens in April, but new research shows that nearly two-thirds (63%) of shoppers want social distancing and/or face masks to stay in place even after the pandemic. In addition, 63% of shoppers say they would like hand sanitiser at the checkout. Two-thirds (67%) also think contactless payment is more important now than before the pandemic.
The findings come as ecommerce platform Shopify releases a new study which explores the changing landscape of shopping in the UK as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shoppers eager to go back to the high street after lockdown
The findings show that the share of people shopping exclusively or mostly online increased fivefold during lockdown (61%), however this is likely to settle back to around a quarter (25%) of shopping in the UK, up from 12% pre-covid. Post-pandemic, more people will be splitting their purchases “50/50” between online and in-store: the proportion of these shoppers is expected to grow to 33% from 23% pre-pandemic.
The survey found that while the pandemic has forced many shoppers to significantly scale back their typical pre-pandemic in-store behaviours such as browsing, touching products and social shopping, most shoppers expect to return to these behaviours when things are “back to normal”.
Shopping locally will continue to be important, but higher prices may deter shoppers
Consumers report that shopping locally is important to them and half (51%) expect to shop more locally post-pandemic compared to pre-pandemic. The main drivers for shopping locally are convenience as a result of proximity and the desire to support local businesses and help the economy.
Shimona Mehta, managing director, EMEA at Shopify, commented: “There is no doubt that Britain’s high streets have changed considerably over the last decade, and particularly over the last year as the pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on businesses. However, contrary to widespread reporting, the high street is not dead, it’s just evolving to suit a modern way of life. There’s no question that high streets will continue to play an important role in all our lives and our research shows that shoppers will return to physical stores as soon as they’re able to.
“Businesses came online quickly last year out of necessity, but now we see companies merging their on- and offline systems into one seamless platform to allow them to sell in-store, online or even via social media. Even small businesses can now offer services such as click and collect and local delivery, which, prior to Covid, were not available to independent or local retailers. Ultimately, we want to help local businesses become more resilient, and we know technology can help businesses serve their customers, whether that’s in their stores or on their websites.”
Shopify launches POS system in the UK
Shopify undertook the survey as it prepares to help set merchants in the UK up for success with their high street shops and online stores as things start to reopen. During the pandemic the number of new online businesses created on Shopify grew by 100%. Retailers now face the challenge of merging their online operations with their shops as customers are set up to return.
Shopify’s retail platform combines a number of elements, including a point of sale operating system and fully integrated payments hardware that allows business owners and staff to provide mobile checkout experiences and serve their customers anywhere, whether in-store, click and collect, or local delivery, as well as contactless and cashless payments. In addition, the platform allows businesses to unify their online and offline store systems to better help with inventory management, and provide a better experience for customers.