High Street Hiatus: A Third of Consumers Find the Idea of Returning to Shops “Daunting”

Fri 23rd Apr

While high street shopping is now allowed under new lockdown rules, a third (32 per cent) of UK consumers find the idea of returning to physical shops “daunting”, and would prefer to shop via an app from their home. That’s according to research from omnichannel customer engagement company, Emarsys.

The research of 2,000 UK consumers shows that — while the majority do want to return to the high street — many are still concerned about their safety in stores.

While 74 per cent of consumers say they missed shopping on the high street during lockdown, 62 per cent feel that current in-store safety measure are not enough to encourage them to return.

Instead, mobile eCommerce apps are still winning out over in-person shopping, with safety, convenience, and online prices all encouraging consumers to shop on their phones.

According to Emarsys, over a quarter of shoppers (27 per cent) believe that payment options are easier in apps, while one in five (20 per cent) prefer using apps to shop due to the number of exclusive deals available.

When it comes to the high street experience, 45 per cent of UK consumers want high street shopping to feel as convenient as shopping via an app. A quarter (26 per cent) say that mobile apps make shopping more relaxed, and 24 per cent say that shopping on mobile apps makes them feel “more in control”.

As for returning to the high street, over a quarter (29 per cent) of shoppers admit they would schedule in an appointment with a retail store if it meant they were able to avoid the crowds. An additional one in five (19 per cent) said they would book a specific slot in order to get a more personal service from the retailer in question.

Commenting on these findings, Chris Godderidge, VP mobile at Emarsys said, “During lockdown, shoppers have grown so accustomed to shopping using a mobile phone that this has become a normal part of everyday life. After months of empty high streets and countless internet purchases, the comfort and safety of at-home shopping is going to be a hard habit to break for many consumers.

“If this situation has taught us anything, it’s that different people will have different levels of comfort when it comes to returning to their old ways. While some might have been first in line for the shops reopening, others will prefer to stick to what they’re used to. Retailers are going to need to think long and hard about the experiences they’re offering shoppers across the board.

“Whether it’s implementing more safety measures to give in-store shoppers peace of mind or it’s creating a seamless mobile shopping experience for those being more cautious, it’s vital that retailers are listening to their customers and delivering the best experiences – whether instore, online or on mobile.”