The COVID Shadow: Shoppers Are Upbeat, But Remain Wary Of Catching COVID-19 In Stores

Email marketers should note the following change in consumer habits: People are eager to get back to stores, and it will no longer be enough to focus solely on getting them to buy online, judging by Mood:Media’s new study: 2021 Shopper Sentiments, conducted by Censuswide.   

Of the shoppers polled, 80% are comfortable visiting physical stores, up from 77% last year. That number leaps to 86% in the U.S., versus 76% in the UK.

And they’re liking it — 54% say it makes them feel good, and 33% say very much so. 

However, 48% of worldwide shoppers polled are worried they will catch COVID-19 in stores, only a slight decline from 49% in 2020.  

The most concerned are in the younger age groups: 25- to-34-year-olds (59%) and 16- to-24-year-olds (46%). 



The least worried are French consumers (30%) and Chinese (50%).

Online shopping remains popular in these product areas globally:

Grocery — 25%

Technology & electronics — 23% 

Fashion & clothing — 22% 

Moreover, 33% of shoppers enjoy Click and Collect Services/BOPIS and hope to continue using it, with the U.S. leading the way at 38%.

Chinese consumers are especially fond of QR codes that allow them to see products in stores and buy online, with 34% saying so, compared to the global average of 17%.  

Retailers offering BOPIS and other such services need strong triggered and transactional email and/or SMS systems. It pays to invest in these systems even for brands expecting to conduct most business in-store.  

Overall, 27% of consumers throughout the globe have changed their shopping habits, as have 34% in the U.S. 

Moreover, 60% expect their shopping to hit pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. Another 21% say this has already happened, but 18% say it will take another year. And 8% never expect a return to normal.     

At 47%, U.S. millennials are most likely to say their behaviors have changed.  

The most upbeat consumers are males in the U.S., 74% of whom are optimistic. The least sanguine are UK shoppers in general—in fact, 14% say their patterns will never return to what they were.  

What have people missed most about shopping in stores? They cite: 

  • Possibility of touching and trying products on the spot—45%
  • Social aspect of shopping with friends and loved ones—35%
  • Possibility of bring home purchases immediately—35%

Also, 32% miss the leisurely pace of in-store shopping, with 40% of Chinese respondents saying so. 

Consumers see these benefits of brick-and-mortar (over online): 

  • The ability to feel, touch and try the product—59%
  • The convenience of taking the purchase home—51%
  • The ability to browse and discover new things—45%

Censuswide surveyed 8,012 consumers in the UK, U.S., France and China from May 28-June 2021.

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