Retailers struggle to track changing xmas shopping behaviours

The “seismic shifts” in consumer shopping behaviour are making it difficult for retailers to get the most out of the festive shopping period, according to research.

Customer analytics firm BlueVenn commissioned research among 2,000 UK adults and 250 retail marketers. It found that 45 per cent of British consumers say they will “dramatically change” the way they shop this year - “decimating” the predictions and forecasts that marketers and businesses rely on during the holiday season.

Younger generations are the most likely to upend expectations and readily embrace change, with 59 per cent of 16-34 year-olds expecting to “significantly change” their shopping behaviour.

The majority of marketers (58 per cent) are “concerned” they won’t be able to alter their marketing efforts to cope with changes in consumer behaviour, jumping to 80 per cent for brands with revenues of between £100 and £499 million.

Retailers are most worried that they will fail to ensure personalisation over multiple channels (53 per cent) and miss out on target customers (51 per cent). There is also a fear they will waste advertising budget - 42 per cent.

With lockdowns and health concerns around COVID-19, half of all shoppers will carry out their shopping through a mixture of online and in-store trips.

Amongst the group of “hybrid shoppers”, there has been a distinct shift in the proportion buying online this year. Hybrid shoppers in the UK last year conducted the majority of their shopping in-store - averaging 88 per cent in-store against 12 per cent online.

But this year the balance has shifted, placing a greater focus on online purchasing - averaging 55 per cent online compared to 45 per cent in-store.

Just over one-in-eight (13 per cent) of shoppers said they will spend more this Christmas, while 41 per cent said they would spend less.

With less xmas shopping trips available to shoppers this year because of the pandemic, there is some solace for shops, as more than a quarter of shoppers (26 per cent) say they will increase the amount they spend on each trip by 10-30 per cent, rising to 41 per cent for those aged 25-34.

There is also good news for brands. The majority of shoppers (56 per cent) say having purchased from a company in the past is important, compared with 43 per cent who believe flash sales are key to their shopping.

With the shift to online purchases, 62 per cent of marketers said they are “worried” they’ll lose regular shop customers in the online shift.

A concerning 57 per cent of marketers concede they do not collect data about their customers’ path to purchase across both in-store and online channels.

Steve Klin, CEO of BlueVenn, said: “For multichannel retailers, with both an online and High Street presence, our findings are both a blessing and a curse. Whilst retailers are rightly embracing digital channels, they will need to be able to track their customers’ meandering passage between their online and offline channels.”

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