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07/29/2021

Survey: Customers want to return to stores, safely

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A new survey indicates the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed consumer shopping habits, including a number of new expectations for stores.

According to a recent survey of nearly 14,800 U.S. consumers from shopping rewards app Shopkick, when asked how their shopping habits will be forever changed by the pandemic, 66% of respondents say they will always be stocked up on essential items. More than half will make fewer but bigger shopping trips (52%), while more than four in 10 will buy more online (44%).

[Read more: Good news for physical retailers in Shopkick’s back-to-school survey]

In addition, close to one-quarter of respondents will be more brand-agnostic (23%) and 13% will utilize omnichannel convenience options like buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) more often.

Although two-thirds (67%) of respondents are vaccinated, a majority want in-store safety precautions to continue through the rest of the year, expecting retailers to offer disinfecting spray (83%), keep plexiglass barriers at checkout (66%), enforce social distancing measures (54%), and require employees (54%) to wear face coverings. Another 42% of respondents want shoppers to be required to wear face coverings, while three in 10 (29%) want to limit the number of shoppers in-store at once. 

When it comes to the in-store experience, respondents are most looking forward to restaurants and bars reopening (60%) and more personal, face-to-face customer service (44%). Other aspects of the in-store experience respondents look forward to returning include product sampling (41%), in-store product demos and classes (28%), and brand pop-up events (22%). Additionally, six in 10 respondents (61%) now feel comfortable trying on clothing or experimenting with merchandise in-store. 

Prolonged periods of out-of-stock products were the most stressful factor for consumers shopping in-store throughout the pandemic (72%). Other brick-and-mortar stressors include shoppers not following safety guidelines (67%), potential exposure to COVID (60%), long lines (42%), mandatory mask mandates (39%), capacity restrictions (37%), and retailers not following safety guidelines (30%). 

To make the in-store shopping experience less stressful in the future, respondents would like retailers to prioritize keeping products stocked (68%) and continue enforcing safety precautions (60%).