London 29.06.2021

Navigating the ever-changing UK retail market

In this article, we summarise our webinar presentation which tackles the constantly changing UK retail market in more detail. Based on data from our Consumer Confidence Barometer, Point of Sales, Consumer Insights and Consumer Life, the four sections provide analysis into the most pressing questions on manufacturers and retailers minds right now including:

  1. How have retail trends changed and what does this mean for the future?
  2. How have buying behaviours changed?
  3. How has the re-opening of stores impacted the retail sector?
  4. How do I appeal to consumers in a post-COVID world?

How have retail trends changed and what does this mean for the future?

In the first lockdown of March 2020, we saw consumers buying items they needed immediately, to work, entertain, cook and exercise from home. By the second and third lockdowns, attitudes had changed, and people chose longer-term investments, such as decorating, tools and equipment, major and small domestic appliances, even new kitchens and bathrooms. This was all about making the home a comfortable central focus of living. 

We expect to see this trend continue into 2021, as consumers become more confident about their prospects and those of the wider economy. It’s worth noting that not everyone feels confident or have been able to invest in their home life. Those earning £25k and less have taken the biggest hit during the pandemic and feel the least optimistic about the future according to GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index.

How have buying behaviours changed?

There’s been no let up in demand in the tech and durables categories, and that is despite the absence of price drops and discounts as retailers and manufacturers alike struggle with supply shortages. Top of shoppers’ agendas now is most definitely convenience. Not surprisingly, with long periods of time when stores were closed, consumers have taken to the internet to shop. We’ve seen significant growth in Click & Collect, the use of mobiles to buy, and a rise in social media shopping, particularly amongst younger consumers.

How has the re-opening of stores impacted the retail sector?

Having a strong digital offer is essential as our analysis indicates that shopping online is the norm today, and consumers will not go back to the old ways of buying. That’s not to say shops don’t have a future, but they must evolve to survive. Stores have a role when an item is needed now – top in this area are stationery, batteries, cookware and mobile accessories. Specialists selling for instance DIY and Garden items look set to have a strong future, as do those selling higher value items that people want to experience before they buy. Saving money in-store is also an incentive to buy on the high street.

How do I appeal to consumers in a post-COVID world?

Once again, online is key for retailers looking to attract consumers, and this is particularly important for older buyers. For those aged 55+, retailer websites are now the most used research channel, followed by search engines and product review sites. Younger consumers in comparison, show a tendency to be more reliant on the advice of friends and family. These shoppers also use YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and increasingly TikTok to research which products to buy. 

Despite changing behaviours, the top three most important drivers of choice of retailer are still Price, Convenience and Stock – just as they were pre-pandemic. However, fast and free delivery are now much more important, ranking fourth and fifth. With online ordering so prevalent, all retailers will want to bear this in mind when planning their sales strategies. 

What does this mean for the future?

The pandemic has boosted the market value of the TCG sector for the foreseeable future. Demand remains high, but there are winds of change coming, and it will be important to target different consumer groups carefully. Multichannel marketing is more important than ever to reach your market with the right offers at the right time. For store owners, success is all about offering the right products and experience to encourage shoppers through the door.

Watch on demand