Nov 22, 2022
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Britons believe online shopping is cheaper, but physical retail still important - CACI survey

Nov 22, 2022

Over half of Britons believe shopping online is cheaper than physical retail, a sentiment that is set to impact shopping behaviours this Christmas, according to consumer and location intelligence specialist CACI.


But while 56% of people it surveyed perceived online as cheaper, 36% still say they would shop more in-store this Christmas.

“The role of the store and the magic of the Christmas high street in connecting brands with customers should not be underestimated” CACI noted.

Its research showed that Britons still love a Christmas shop but a potential consequence of the rising cost of living could be strong footfall in November and December that doesn’t translate into bigger basket sizes.

Meanwhile, its research also shows the value of physical retail means many brands “experience a meaningful uplift in online sales within a store’s catchment”. For example, CACI has seen Zara’s online market share is 43% higher around its city centre stores.

It also found that more than 50% of people plan to visit the same stores as last year, “highlighting the value of developing customer loyalty, and the need to convert this into spend with exclusive in-store deals, events, and flash sales”.

Asked whether they are starting Christmas shopping earlier this year, 36% of respondents said they have already begun and are looking to spread the burden over multiple paydays, particularly lower affluence groups, with 42% of ‘Financially Stretched’ shoppers having started early.

It also found that 25-34 year-olds in urban locations are placing a key focus on supporting local independents this Christmas, staying true to their values of conscious consumerism despite the cost-of-living crisis. The most affluent and older generations remain relatively unmoved on sustainability, with 50% of ‘Comfortable Communities’ and 46% of ‘Affluent Achievers’ choosing value over ethics.

Hannah Smith, Managing Consultant at CACI, said: “Whether it is a misconception or not, the general sentiment is that online shopping is cheaper than physical retail. Among the lasting impacts of Covid, we’ve seen greater channel fluidity for shoppers, with the boundaries between online and offline increasingly blurred. This might be why this perception exists – a new audience has taken to online shopping, where sales are a click away and take very little research or hunting.

“But the magic of the shopping in store remains undimmed, especially as we approach Christmas and the appetite for experience and gift-giving it brings. Whilst we may anticipate more transactions online, 58% enjoy the experience of the in-person shop, even if they go on to transact online. So there are two key lessons: first, do not ignore the value of your online halo; and second, building customer loyalty now will absolutely benefit retailers in the long-run.”

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