Almost half of UK shoppers have said they believe the coronavirus pandemic will have a permanent impact on their habits, according to new research.
Research by O2 Business and Retail Economics revealed that 44% think they will see permanent changes to the way they shop, with many saying they expect to shop online more regularly.
The survey showed that 47% of people think the number of times they shop online will definitely increase.
This is the latest concerning sign for high street retailers who have seen footfall decrease after people were told to stay at home at the start of the outbreak.
At the peak of the pandemic, around a third of consumers, 34%, said they bought essential and non-essential items from online retailers, the research said.
Customers had already increasingly turned to online retailers ahead of the pandemic.
Around 24% of customers said they have purchased items online before whilst in a retail store, with 36.5% saying they have used their mobile to look at reviews and price-check online while out shopping.
Jo Bertram, managing director at O2 Business, said: “As a technology partner to the industry, we wanted to find out what the tectonic shifts have been in how people have engaged with each other over the last decade.
“In particular, the way in which smartphones, tablets and even watches have impacted us all as customers, retailers and business leaders.
“The effect the lockdown has had to the way we buy has been significant, but they’ve accentuated these shifts more than redirected them.”
Richard Lim, chief executive officer of Retail Economics, said: “The impact of Covid-19 has re-wired the customer journey, leaving many retailers scrambling to assess the impact as they attempt to realign their proposition to meet a new normal.
“We’ve already witnessed a significant shift towards online and it’s inevitable that some of these behaviours will become permanent, with digital playing a much more important role.
“Many of these consumers are shopping for goods online for the first time, overcoming the barriers of setting up online accounts, entering payment details and gaining trust.
“The new normal will involve a step-change in the integration of digital technologies and retailers are assessing what this means for the number of stores, where they should invest and the potential partnerships that could be formed.”
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