Half of shoppers 'afraid of returning to in-store'

Nearly half (48 per cent) of shoppers are scared of returning to physical stores, as the lockdown restrictions ease further this weekend.

A Censuswide survey of 2,000 consumers for e-commerce consultancy Wunderman Thompson Commerce found that the surge in online sales is set to continue after lockdown, with the channel set to account for over half (51 per cent) of all spend in the future.

The data revealed that online purchases accounted for 62 per cent of all shopping during the lockdown, compared to 43 per cent before the pandemic began.

Amazon’s share in the e-commerce market swelled as a result of the pandemic, accounting for over a third (35 per cent) of all online shopping.

Aside from Amazon, the report also highlighted some of the clear winners and losers during the global outbreak, with corner shops (27 per cent) and Tesco (23 per cent) seeing a net rise in positive perception amongst customers.

One in five said their net intention to purchase with Amazon post-COVID-19 will increase, despite 21 per cent of people expressing worry about Amazon’s ever-increasing dominance.

When it came to choice of e-commerce outlet, a total of 61 per cent of shoppers identified free delivery as a key purchase driver, with availability (57 per cent) and price (53 per cent) coming in as close second and third choices.

When asked what consumers would like to see change most in their online shopping experience, free returns (28 per cent) topped the list.

The survey also highlighted ethical concerns amongst shoppers, with nearly three quarters (73 per cent) wishing that retailers and brands would offer better environmental practices. Over half (55 per cent) of consumers also said that a companies ethics and morals play an important part in their purchase decisions.

Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “COVID-19 was always going to have a big impact on retail, particularly on high street brands; in many cases, retailers have had to shift entire operations online.

"With many consumers looking for assurances on safety and reliability, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see the likes of Amazon and the ‘big four’ supermarkets resonate highly with their ability to provide services to consumers in the way they want," he continued, adding: "They also all adapted quickly by emphasising stock availability, competitive pricing and customer safety."

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