Physical stores conquer online in household purchases

The spotlight has been shining rather brightly on online shopping since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. However, new research is showing that physical stores conquered online stores when it comes to purchasing non-grocery items.

On average, 59% of total non-grocery consumer spend was made in physical stores, according to researchers at the Australian Consumer and Retail Studies (ACRS) unit in the Monash Business School.

Online marketplaces grew in popularity, accounting for 10% of consumer spend, only just behind retailer websites at 15% and online-only retailers like The Iconic and Kogan at 11%.

The survey shows 70% of Australians purchased clothing, footwear and accessories in store in the six months up to May 2020. Household items and personal care products were also popular purchases (54% and 52%, respectively), while the popularity of consumer electronics and media and entertainment products grew (32% and 26%, respectively).

“Many shoppers used online shopping channels like marketplaces for the first time during the shutdown, when physical stores were no longer open,” says Dr Eloise Zoppos from ACRS.

“And they expect that they will be using online channels more in the second half of the year, suggesting they have become more comfortable and confident in their use.

“But it was surprising to see, especially during the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic, that people still visited and trusted physical stores for non-grocery related purchases. That should give retailers of all sizes confidence that people still value a personalised shopping experience.”

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 49% of consumers said they would continue to shop at physical stores for non-grocery purchases in the next six months. About 23% said they would use the physical store less.

More than one-quarter of shoppers said they would turn to online retailer websites for their purchases in the next six months, with 24 per cent saying they will use online-only retailers.

“It’s been a tumultuous first half of the year, but retailers who are nimble, agile and prepared to adapt to new consumer and shopping behaviours, are going to be successful in the long-term.”

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