Consumer Shopping Habits – The New Normalcy

12 February 2024
Reading time 3 minuty

Marketing department employees are well aware of the importance of data presented in studies of shopping trends and behaviors when planning strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic has led buyers to opt for bulk purchases, fearing that things may not return to their previous state. On the other hand, the lockdown provided an opportunity for the e-commerce sector to grow, which during isolation ceased to be a choice and became a necessity. Now, after the full reopening of the retail industry for consumers, changes in shopping behaviors are visible, driven by three main factors: safety, convenience, and habit.

On May 4, 2020, after two months of restrictions related to the epidemic situation in Poland, the economy began to thaw. The government, in a four-stage system, began the return to the “new normal.” Since then, the retail sector has experienced dynamic changes, and sociologists emphasize that pandemics have the tendency to bring changes on every level: demographic, social, and of course, economic. History knows such cases; the Black Death epidemic that erupted in southern Europe in 1347 also turned the world upside down. The global economy is being tested, and the results of these changes are clearly visible in shifts in consumer attitudes. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, analytical companies have been examining the impact of the crisis situation on shopping baskets, a key element driving the country’s economy.

On the timeline, it is evident that concern for health and fear of illness redirected consumers from offline to online. This trend had been visible for some time, but the barrier to entry was trust in such purchases, especially in foreign e-shops. The percentage of internet users shopping online increased rapidly due to the imposed restrictions. A report by Gemius, conducted in cooperation with the Chamber of Electronic Economy, states that already 62% of Polish internet users shop online. However, habit prevails, and the longing for meetings with friends, which accompanies shopping, and the experiences provided by brands, led consumers to timidly, yet decisively, start visiting shopping malls shortly after the lifting of restrictions. Entrepreneurs sounded the alarm that foot traffic in stores was incomparably lower compared to the data analyzed a year earlier. However, the latest data from the Polish Council of Shopping Centers (PRCH) for the week of July 20-26 indicate that the footfall in shopping facilities averaged from 79% to 85% of last year’s results on business days. However, what speaks the most is the conversion rate, which sometimes exceeded retailers’ initial assumptions. The conclusion is that we do not go shopping with the whole family due to safety concerns, but we make our shopping decisions in advance and come to stores for specific, pre-selected products.

The doomsday scenarios that spoke of the closure of “temples of consumerism” did not come true. Just like the thousands of years of trading tradition, where agoras were places of meetings, exchanges, and inspiration, would be destroyed in 2 months? Shopping attitudes are changing – hard data speaks clearly; consumers choose stores more carefully, paying attention to whether a given brand is socially responsible and operates in line with sustainable development. People prefer to shop online, but, as reported by Deloitte in the Global State of the Consumer Tracker report, more and more consumers are choosing the BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) option, i.e., ordering purchases online with personal pickup. Furthermore, the pickup takes place in places that adhere to all sanitary regulations and communicate it properly. At least 60% of customers expect physical stores to implement more and more safety mechanisms and enable the reduction of touch contacts. It must be safe, but the awaited normalcy must return as soon as possible.

Interestingly, this new normalcy also shows new shopping behaviors. On the one hand, consumers manifest pro-ecological behaviors by supporting initiatives from the sustainable business sector; on the other hand, during the pandemic, consumers decidedly more often chose packaged food, especially in plastic packaging, despite the fact that until recently, such products were considered less environmentally friendly.

The financial security breach of Poles has also not remained without an impact. Layoffs or pay cuts have led to a drastic reduction in spending on luxury goods. A good example, as provided by the analysis department of Santander Bank Polska, is the automotive industry. The latest data for June showed an increase in the registration of premium brands by over 11%, while the total number of passenger car registrations was still 20.5% lower than a year earlier. Experts at Bain & Company predict that the value of the global luxury goods market in 2020 will drastically decrease compared to 2019 when it reached over 280 billion euros.

In summary, it is clear that situations like pandemics have always been a factor in accelerating certain processes, highlighting trends already visible. Consumers have evolved, paying attention to their safety and carefully choosing brands by analyzing their behavior in the field of social corporate responsibility. They limit impulse spending but are willing to set aside money to afford more expensive and luxurious items.


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