Six months of lockdown have changed how we shop – and 81% of us are going to stay that way, study shows

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Research has revealed how the UK’s shopping habits have transformed over the past six months of coronavirus. In fact, the number of Brits who think their shopping habits have changed permanently has gone up from 60% in April to 81% in September.

The big winner is e-commerce and Amazon in particular – the number of people who say they purchase on Amazon more often jumping from 19% in April to 29% in September. In addition, one in five shoppers (20%) now believe they will maintain that habit when the pandemic is over, up from the 12% who thought that way six months ago.

Almost as many (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.

Even older consumers are getting in on the e-commerce bandwagon: a quarter (25%) of over-55s say they now shop more on Amazon and 18% think they’ll continue to do so when things get back to normal. Even more over-55s (28%) say they now buy items online that previously they’d have purchased on the high street and 22% plan to continue that habit post-pandemic.

The study of more than 2,000 UK adults, carried out three times across the past five months, was commissioned by global e-commerce agency Melody. It also highlighted that independent retailers have become increasingly popular among UK shoppers – 18% now say they shop at those stores more regularly, and 14% that they will continue to do so even after the pandemic has subsided.

The findings include:

How has coronavirus changed your shopping habits?April 2020June 2020September 2020
I shop more often on Amazon19%27%29%
I shop more regularly at local/independent retailersN/A16%18%
I shop more online outside working hours13%15%16%
I shop more online during working hours10%12%12%
What changed shopping habits do you think you’ll maintain when things return to normal?April 2020June 2020September 2020
I will maintain some or all of my new shopping habits60%71%81%
I will shop more often on Amazon12%17%20%
I will shop at stores/the high street less frequently9%10%18%
I will buy products online that I would have previously bought on the high street12%17%18%
I will shop more regularly at local/independent retailersN/A12%14%
I will shop more online outside working hours7%10%10%
I will shop more online during working hours4%5%7%

The research also found that one in five UK adults (20%) don’t think any high street stores are doing a good job when it comes to consumers’ coronavirus health and safety concerns. It noted that people think supermarkets are doing best – 60% think they’re doing well – but then it drops off massively to garden centres on 22%, high street shops on 20% and shopping centres/malls on 16%.

Market traders and pop-up stalls ranked lowest, with only 9% of shoppers thinking they’re doing a good job on health and safety in the new Covid-19 environment.

Chris Cooper, planning director at Melody, comments: “The recent surge towards e-commerce 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. Online marketplaces like Amazon provide convenience, speed and simplicity, but also allow people to shop without the hassles of face masks and public transport.

“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. A number of big-name high street brands have already fallen by the wayside because shoppers have utterly changed how they think and behave. Those that remain will have to double down on their online efforts.”