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Change in shopping behaviour due to Covid-19

man with a green hoodie and a classic blue and white surgical mask looking a clothes during covid restricted times.
Change in shopping behaviour due to Covid-19
April 7, 2021

2020, and the start of 2021 have been rough. Let’s just be honest about that. But we believe things can and will be better. We just need to look at, analyse and adapt to our customers’ behavioural changes.

Let’s start with the basics, what we all know; knowing our customers and how they behave is imperative to staying in business in the long run. Using data insight, and learning from it, will give a shopping mall or physical retail store just as much of an advantage as an online shop.

In this article we’ll be looking at available Kogenta data insight, as well as other valuable online sources to present some interesting findings worth sharing. Hopefully it will get you thinking about your next move, as we soon will enter into a post pandemic world.

Data is more important than ever

It is both highly interesting and important to look at the change in shopping behaviour.

Although some categories in the retail industry have seen greater numbers than ever during the pandemic, many have experienced a severe decline.

The difference between men and women, as well as within different age groups, need to be monitored to be able to adjust how we communicate to our customers.

Women have generally been more cautious during the last year, especially when it comes to clothes and shoes, and have decreased their online shopping.

Men are higher risk takers than women, and they have increased their online spending during 2020.

Personalising the shopping experience

The physical stores have always had a leg up on the online stores when it comes to being able to talk to their customers in real-time and creating an in-store experience. But e-commerce is closing in due to personalised customer journeys and use of data. The best ones are facilitating user generated content and retargeting, specifically aimed at individual customers. This will most likely create a connection between the customer and the brand and create a return visit.

If you have an online and a physical store, make sure to communicate this and build a relationship that ensures a store visit when we yet again can roam free.

If you run a physical store with no e-commerce options, you can still communicate digitally with your existing and potential customers through a website, app, social media channel or newsletter.

Communicate with them to let them know you are there, and that you are taking all precautions to make it safe for them, but also – if you can – give them incentives like coupons, discounts or similar to make them drop by. When they arrive, give them the personal experience they will never get in an online store.

The winners of the retail industry in 2020

There are likely to be variations depending on countries, but the obvious retail winners are:

  • Health and beauty
  • Home improvement
  • Sporting goods and hobby

While spending more time at home we had more time to get annoyed at our own walls (although we are thankful to have walls). We were hopefully not as annoyed by our own faces, but we definitely spent more time on getting in shape and fighting signs of aging. The time we spent outside of our homes showed us that we absolutely needed more outdoor clothing and equipment. But who bought what?

Within the health and beauty sector, women were the unparalleled spenders. And probably just as obvious is the fact that men are the main shoppers in the sporting goods and hobby category. When it comes to home improvement, the men spend more, but the women visit physical home improvement stores at a much higher rate.

Reducing returns

There are more returns online than in physical stores. Although this is not surprising due to lockdowns and increased online shopping, it still highlights that an in-store experience will most likely leave the customer more satisfied.

Let people touch your product and help them compare items in store, so that they are less likely to make a return.

Just make sure to make it easy for them to make a return when times are uncertain. They will appreciate good service and come back for more.

Less frequent visits

In these uncertain times when new lockdowns seem to happen at an irregular basis, it’s important to make the most of the visits you do get.

  • Adapt to their needs; do they want to chat? Spend time with them.
  • Do they need to know more about the benefits of the goods? Share knowledge and look things up for them if needed.
  • Is there anything you can do to make customers feel extra special and safe? Do it. With less people visiting we need to put greater efforts into the ones that do.
  • Are they uncertain? Tell them that they can easily return the item if needed, maybe provide a guarantee that even if the store has to close due to regulations, you will extend the time limit for a return.

Try to up-sell. They might not be back for a while, so ask them kindly if there is something else they might need in the same category or tell them about a bestseller they might not know about.

In general women tend to shop more often than men, but the trend is that men are starting to take up more space. Men shop more and usually have an on average higher receipt than women both online and in physical stores, but women still frequent the physical stores more often and make several smaller purchases.

The data we have shared in this article is general and while it might provide some guidance and indication, your own numbers are the only ones that are true to you. Spend time on gathering and analysing them so that you can adapt and move forward where you see you need to put your focus. Perhaps you find the opposite of what has been the norm in retail during the crisis.

We’d love to hear from you. How has this past year impacted your business?

Sources: Kogenta analytics,, Accenture, Forbes.

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