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Web information more trusted than retail staff

More than nine shoppers out of ten have more confidence in the internet than in retail staff when researching purchases, according to new research.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Web information more trusted than retail staff

A joint report into the impact of the recession on British shopping habits by affiliate network LinkShare and research house Penn Schoen & Berland Associates interviewed consumers in March 2009 to find out how they expect to change their online shopping patterns in 2009. It has identified the emergence of a new kind of consumer

- the Recession Shopper.

The survey found that 92% of respondents have more confidence in online information than sales people in-store. Some 81% are doing online research 'most of the time' before buying a product and 78% say this is because TV advertising does not give them enough information to make an informed decision. There is a net decrease of 19% of those who expect to make high street purchases in the coming year, compared to an anticipated 22% net increase in online shoppers.

Recession Shoppers are people who intend to migrate their shopping online to mitigate the effect of rising costs. As their purse strings tighten, they will not cease to spend but will do so more carefully. The South of England (comprising the South East, South West, London and the East of England) shows the strongest expected growth with 23% of people planning to increase their online spend this year. They are followed by 20% of people in the Midlands and Wales, with the North of England and Scotland trailing behind with only 18% expecting to spend more online.

More than ever consumers are using more than one source to research their purchases. Most popular are price comparison engines, used by 75% of respondents. Other key research tools include user reviews (69%) and professional review sites (66%). Loyalty/reward sites and voucher sites are rated highly by 55% and 52% of respondents respectively, demonstrating the importance of value to today's cost-conscious consumer. As many as 43% respondents say they have purchased a product online that they wouldn't otherwise have considered as a result of finding a relevant voucher, and 26% of respondents said that they now receive email alerts from voucher sites.

Overall, 31% of respondents said that they will make more online purchases this year. 58% are expecting to spend at least as much as they did in 2008, if not more.

“The message to retailers is clear: consumers are moving online to deal with the recession. To take advantage of this opportunity, retailers must provide a clear value message in all of their online communications. Vouchers, for example, have taken off enormously since the recession hit and this is a trend that will only continue as the nation adjusts to its new financial situation,” says Linkshare managing director Liane Dietrich.

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