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Brick-and-mortar retail still popular amid pandemic

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
20 July 2020 1 minute readShare

Australian consumers still went to brick-and-mortar stores to buy household items rather than use online channels in the six months leading up to May 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recent academic research.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 49 per cent of consumers said they would continue to shop at physical stores for non-grocery purchases in the next six months. About 23 per cent said they would use the physical store less, according to research from the Australian Consumer and Retail Studies (ACRS) unit in the Monash Business School.

Out of a survey of 500 Australian shoppers, more than one-quarter of shoppers said they would turn to online retailer websites for their purchases in the next six months, with 24 per cent saying they will use online-only retailers.

Despite the affinity among shoppers for brick-and-mortar stores, online marketplaces grew in popularity, accounting for 10 per cent of consumer spend, only just behind retailer websites at 15 per cent and online-only retailers like The Iconic and Kogan at 11 per cent.

The survey showed that 70 per cent of Australians purchased clothing, footwear and accessories in-store in the six months up to May 2020.

Household items and personal care products were also popular purchases (54 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively), while the popularity of consumer electronics and media and entertainment products grew (32 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively).

Dr Eloise Zoppos from the ACRS said shoppers, many of whom turned to online shopping channels for the first time or more regularly as brick-and-mortar stores were closed, expect to use online channels more in the next six months due to COVID-19.

“It’s been a tumultuous first half of the year, but retailers who are nimble, agile and prepared to adapt to new consumer and shopping behaviours are going to be successful in the long term,” Dr Zoppos said.

“Many shoppers used online shopping channels like marketplaces for the first time during the shutdown, when physical stores were no longer open.

“And they expect that they will be using online channels more in the second half of the year, suggesting they have become more comfortable and confident in their use.

“But it was surprising to see, especially during the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic, that people still visited and trusted physical stores for non-grocery-related purchases. That should give retailers of all sizes confidence that people still value a personalised shopping experience.”

Brick-and-mortar retail still popular amid pandemic
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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