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Study: Consumers ready to buy apparel in-store — but nix try-ons

Shoppers are ready to purchase apparel and other non-essential items in stores, but with some major changes compared to pre-pandemic. 

A recent study by First Insight found that 54% of consumers are ready to buy apparel in-store, but that 65% of women say they will not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms. (By comparison, 54% of men said they would not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms.)

In other findings, 78% of women would not feel safe testing beauty products and 66% would not feel safe working with a sales associate. 

Of the generations, millennials feel the safest returning to the shopping environment overall, according to the survey. Only 49% of millennials surveyed said they would not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms compared to 71% of baby boomers. Similarly, 58% would not feel safe testing beauty products compared to 86% of baby boomers, and 48% of millennials would not feel safe working with a sales associate, versus 72% of baby boomers.

“While many shoppers seem ready to go back in-store, particularly to buy clothing, the experience is anything but business-as-usual,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight. “The Coronavirus has moved the industry away from high-touch to low-touch. The ‘new normal’ for retailers will be to work with shoppers in a hands-free way to help them to find what they need while also giving them the space to feel comfortable, particularly with high-risk groups like baby boomers.”

As to what would make consumers feel safest in stores, hand sanitizer and limiting the amount of people in-store (80% respectively) came out on top, followed by wearing a facemask (79%). Temperature checks (69%), self-checkout (69% ) and farther distances between product racks or shelving (68%) ranked less important to consumers when considering safety of shopping experiences in-store.

Other findings from the First Insight survey are below.
• Worry about COVID-19 is subsiding slightly, with 76% of respondents being worried on April 30th, versus 82% on April 20, 2020.

• The percent of consumers cutting back on spending due to the virus has decreased, with 58% of respondents reporting cutbacks in spending on April 30 compared to 62% on April 20.

The new findings were revealed as part of First Insight’s ongoing series of consumer sentiment studies entitled, “The Impact of Coronavirus on Consumer Purchase Decisions and Behaviors.” Now publishing the fifth study in the series, the company has been tracking consumer data since February 28, 2020, fielding additional studies on March 17, April 3, April 20 and April 30, 2020. Each survey sample is balanced by gender, geography and generation.

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