Over half of Brits believe shopping online is cheaper than physical retail, although retailers are still set to benefit this Christmas as it seems consumers love nothing more than a festive trip to the high street.
That is according to a new survey by CACI, which revealed that while 56% of respondents perceived online as cheaper, 36% disclosed they would still shop more in-store this Christmas.
A potential consequence of the rising cost of living could be strong footfall in November and December, but lower basket size than might be expected during the festive period.
The value of physical retail has been previously confirmed by CACI’s ‘online halo’ research, showing that 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.
CACI also found that more than 50% 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.
In addition, results showed that 36% have already begun and are looking to spread the burden over multiple pay cheques, particularly lower affluence groups, with 42% of “Financially Stretched” shoppers having started early.
CACI managing consultant Hannah Smith 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.”
The study also found that 25- to 34-year-olds in urban locations are in particular 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.
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Consumers beat retail to start festive shopping early