UK consumers willing to switch between online and in-store for the lowest prices, new report shows

A report by global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), in partnership with Retail Economics, has found that UK consumers are willing to switch between online and in-store channels to find the lowest prices. 

The cost-of-living crisis is leading to the emergence of a more cost-conscious consumer. Of the shoppers concerned about price, 41% said they will purchase online or in-store, whichever is cheaper. In addition, a quarter (24%) would buy direct from the manufacturer if it was cheaper, while 22% say they would wait longer for delivery for lower prices. 

When it comes to the attractions of physical stores over online shopping, older generations like to be able to browse, try, touch and feel products, while Gen Z and Millennials place more emphasis on in-store customer service and the choice and assortment of products. 

18% of Gen Zs (18–24-year-olds) suggest that the in-store environment is the most important aspect of a visit, compared with 13.4% of Baby Boomers. Younger consumers also value integrated in-store digital technology and frictionless payments more than older generations, who tend to prioritise product availability and customer service. 

These younger shoppers are also more likely to view shopping as a leisure activity where they spend time socialising with friends and family. Being able to instantly purchase products in-store (20%) and supporting an online journey with collection or drop-off (8%) were other reasons given to visit a physical store over shopping online.  

Erin Brookes, head of retail and consumer, Europe, said: “Consumers are increasingly channel-agnostic, with the cost-of-living crisis cementing price as the most important factor when it comes to purchasing decisions. Retailers can work this trend to their advantage by adapting their multichannel strategies. However, they should be wary of depending on formerly loyal customers as a predictor of performance – anticipating customer behaviour will be increasingly challenging as inflation bites.”