As the COVID cloud begins to clear, retail stores are poised for a quick return of foot traffic. New research from CX solutions company Mood Media, shoppers are beginning to return to physical stores in significant numbers as pandemic measures lift around the world. The firm’s new report, Shopper Sentiments: A June 2021 Global Mood Survey, found that four out of five (80 percent) consumers now feel either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very comfortable’ visiting physical stores, up from 71 percent in 2020.
Three in five (60 percent) consumers surveyed expect their shopping habits to be back to pre-pandemic levels by or before the end of this year, while one-fifth (21 percent) of respondents report their shopping habits have already returned to pre-pandemic levels. These encouraging findings and predictions for physical stores are bolstered by the fact that only 5 percent of respondents across the U.S., UK, China and France reported not feeling ‘comfortable at all’ about returning to stores.
“We’re experiencing a healthy buzz as shops reopen to a ‘new normal’ throughout the world,” said Scott Moore, global chief marketing officer at Mood Media, in a news release. “Consumers are eager to get back into stores to experience the joy of shopping again. This new study validates what we are seeing and hearing every day—both online and offline play an important role in retail, oftentimes in harmony with one another. That balance is now returning with solid foot traffic in shops around the world.”
Revealing what global shoppers have missed most about the physical shopping experience during lockdown—largely pointing to benefits that don’t exist when shopping online—nearly half (45 percent) said it was the experience of ‘touching and trying on’ items on the spot that they missed most when stores were closed.
The fun and social experience of shopping with friends and significant others is the second most missed aspect of physical shopping (35 percent), tied with the opportunity to bring the purchase home immediately at 35 percent as well.
Consumers have also enjoyed the merging of physical and digital, with a third (33 percent) of them citing plans to continue using Click and Collect/BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) services beyond the pandemic, with U.S. consumers above the global average at 38 percent.
Globally, most consumers (84 percent) say there is no significant difference in the amount of money they are currently spending compared to before the pandemic.
However, after over 15 months of global uncertainty, the data also indicates that consumer spending overall is on the rise. The percentage of respondents reporting an uptick in their spending compared to before the pandemic has increased from 23 percent in September 2020 to 29 percent in June 2021. The percentage of consumers reporting they are spending less has also gone down, from 38 percent in 2020 to 25 percent today, while those citing spending the same as before the pandemic has increased from 40 percent to 46 percent.
“The pandemic placed pressure on stores to innovate at a faster pace, leading to an accelerated ‘phygital’ evolution which merges the physical and digital shopping experience,” Moore added. “The survey highlights key phygital trends that will be a focus for retailers and the customer journey beyond the here and now. Consumers have told us they want Click and Collect and Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store options to continue well beyond the pandemic. And in China, we’re seeing longevity in the future of virtual try-ons and QR codes”
“The figures generally show positive sentiment across all four countries surveyed,” said Moore. “While some reservations remain with regard to safety measures, people are generally voting with their feet and their wallets. We’re delighted that we appear to be approaching the end of a fairly grim 15 months, and life seems to be improving for the retail sector as a whole.”
A follow-up to Mood Media’s Shopper Sentiments: A September 2020 Global Mood Survey, this new study was carried out by Censuswide and surveyed more than 8,000 consumers across four major markets – the U.S., UK, China and France.