70% won’t feel safe returning to shops on 15 June: EY

Seven out of ten shoppers say they will not feel totally comfortable heading into physical stores once they re-open on 15 June, according to new research from EY.

The professional services firm surveyed 1,017 UK consumers about their attitude to revisiting non-essential and essential food stores after the lockdown, with 80 per cent saying they would not feel comfortable trying on clothes in store.

Despite the presence of essential food and grocery shops throughout the lockdown, just a quarter said they currently feel fully comfortable shopping in a grocery store.

The report also showed that 45 per cent of UK consumers believe the way they shop over the next one to two years will change, with 64 per cent saying they expect to go shopping less frequently, but will spend more when they do.

Similarly, 57 per cent said they will be more aware of hygiene and sanitation when shopping in person.

Before COVID-19, factors such as whether a product was organic or sustainable, was defined as a luxury item, or could be personalised were important for many consumers. According to the survey, consumers are now prioritising product availability (59 per cent), price (43 per cent) and health (41 per cent).

Overall, the report highlights that consumers are gearing themselves up to live more risk-averse lives. More than half (67 per cent) expect it to take months or years before they will return to a restaurant, with similar sentiments for visiting cinemas (80 per cent) and bars/pubs (73 per cent).

Silvia Rindone, partner in consumer product and retail at EY, said: “UK consumer companies will need to be aware of consumers’ heightened concerns and make every effort to mitigate anxiety if they are to prosper in this new market.

“Companies need to think about reinventing their customer experience so that consumers feel reassured that the risk has been minimised.”

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