Store expectations: What do UK consumers expect when shopping?

Whether you prefer shopping on the high street or browsing your options online, it’s safe to say that all of us have certain expectations we want met when we’re out shopping. But where exactly do our shopping interests lie?

Is high street shopping truly fading in popularity? And perhaps more importantly, what do we like and dislike about the current UK shopping space?

To find out, the team at SumUp carried out a survey of 2,000 UK participants from different social backgrounds, in order to see just how our shopping preferences differ across the nation.

Thanks to this data, we can now highlight exactly where UK shopping interests lie, whether or not people are still interested in shopping in-store, and areas that high street companies might want to focus on in the future in order to increase consumer confidence.

Current consumer shopping trends

To begin with, let’s start by looking at what environments UK consumers prefer to shop in. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the results of our survey show over half of shoppers trend towards buying online, with just 41% of respondents saying that they like to shop locally in-store to support local businesses.

As for which platforms are most favoured by UK customers, especially when it comes to impulse buying, 44% of those we surveyed say they primarily use Amazon, which makes sense when it comes to convenience, with another 25% looking to get good deals on eBay. In contrast, just 26% said they impulse buy when shopping in person.

So, it’s clear that online shopping is preferred by many, but that’s not to say that in-store shopping doesn’t have its perks. For example, our data suggests that 68% of consumers enjoy in-store shopping because it allows them to physically see and try a product before buying.

On top of this, 63% of those surveyed highlighted the fact that they can buy and use the product they want immediately, with a further 43% enjoying the fact that they can speak to someone about the item they’re interested in before committing to the purchase.

And the positives don’t stop there. 41% of consumers pointed out that they were more likely to trust brands with sustainable packaging. This was backed by a further 36% stating that they trust brands that allow them to recycle their products, and this is certainly an area where high street shops have a visible advantage over their online competition.

However, while these aspects are all positive, in-store shopping certainly isn’t without its negatives. Many of our respondents highlighted the poor quality of goods and store hygiene as a big turn-off, with 57% and 54% respectively saying that they found this to make for a very unpleasant in-store shopping experience.

This sentiment was then backed up further by the 53% and 52% of in-store shoppers mentioning that poor customer service and pushy salespeople can really turn them off buying their shopping in-person.

Interestingly, one surprise stat we weren’t expecting to see was that 21% of those shopping in person don’t like it when a store doesn’t offer a cashless payment option, with a further 12% saying they get frustrated when brands don’t have any online purchasing option, which really shows the trend towards cashless shopping and payment in recent years.

Current UK trade shopping trends

Now that we’ve looked at high streets in general, let’s turn our attention to what sorts of trades consumers prefer to shop for in person compared to online. And straight away, our data suggests that key industries, such as fashion, food, and home interiors, are all industries that people prefer to shop for in person.

Specifically, 51% of respondents said they looked for fashion in-person compared to 36% online, hinting at the convenience of online shopping not surpassing the ability to try clothes before you buy, and 71% opt to purchase food in-store in comparison to 22% online. As for home interiors, 59% said they buy their items in-store.

As for industries that dominate online shopping, most consumers appear to book travel online, with a staggering 66% preferring to do it this way compared to just 14% going to a travel brand in person. The same is true for technology, which had a 51% to 34% divide amongst our recipients.

And again, another interesting fact of note that we weren’t expecting to see was that 25% of respondents said they spent more money online than in-store, compared to 21% of store shoppers, which suggests the physical act of buying something can make you more conscious of how much you’re spending.

Finally, we asked shoppers whether or not they’d be more likely to return to a store if they offered a loyalty program, such as seasonal offers and discounts for certain age groups. And while only 19% said they strongly agreed, 43% said they somewhat agreed compared to 33% having no opinion and 5% somewhat disagreeing.

What this suggests is that many high-street stores could certainly benefit from having some sort of loyalty scheme in place as a means to increase customer growth and repeat purchases.

So, it’s clear that the UK high street isn’t on its way out yet, and there are still plenty of us who would rather do our shopping in person for the advantages it offers. Of course, that’s no reason for stores not to adapt to compete with the convenience offered through online shopping, especially if they want access to a higher percentage of online customers.

And if you’re looking to increase customer traffic in your store, get in touch with the SumUp team today to ask about the different contactless payment systems we can install in your store.

SumUp Team