What Long-Term Impact Will the Pandemic Have On Consumer Spending Behaviour?

As the world reopens, Klarna shares their key findings on why retailers must adapt their in-store experience with innovation and reinvent what a customer's shopping journey should look like.

Did you know that shoppers expect an omnichannel experience? A New Klarna survey has found that  91% of shoppers expect brands to offer online and in-store shopping experiences, and 87% expect brands to have a mobile app. 

Klarna’s survey also revealed that safety precautions would be the top priority for nearly three-quarters of consumers (74%) shopping in-store, even when the country opens up more widely. Deals and discounts are also a significant draw for 73% of those planning to shop in brick-and-mortar stores this year, followed by fast and convenient pickup and returns (63%) and customer service availability (46%).

New Expectations Around In-store Shopping 

Klarna surveyed over 41,000 shoppers across the US to understand the pandemic’s lasting impact on consumer spending behaviour. The survey found out that 77% of shoppers want to try clothes again in fitting rooms this year, but only 36% would like to see beauty and wellness product testing return.

“Shoppers miss the physical elements of the in-store experience that can only be offered in a brick-and-mortar setting, like fitting rooms. However, they also have new expectations around what the in-store shopping journey should look like,” said David Sykes, Head of US at Klarna. “Our latest research shows that safety will remain a top concern for consumers, even as the world reopens, so retailers must adapt their in-store experience to provide shoppers with greater confidence and peace of mind. Buy online, pick up in-store options, contactless payments, QR codes, and safety features as simple as hand sanitiser are simple solutions proven to resonate with today’s shoppers.”

Klarna, a global retail bank, payments and shopping service, with retail partners that include H&M, IKEA, Expedia Group, Samsung, ASOS, Peloton, Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike and AliExpress shared other key findings. They include:

  • Stores have an instant gratification advantage. The top reasons shoppers head to physical retail stores are to touch and try on products (79%), purchase products instantly (67%), browse and discover new products (56%), and return items quickly (34%). 
  • Younger generations appreciate the speed and efficiency of physical stores. The ability to purchase and return items quickly is more important to Millennials (purchase: 72%, return: 36%) and Gen Zers (purchase: 70%, return: 40%) than it is to Gen Xers (purchase: 65%, return: 30%) and Boomers (purchase: 60%, return: 30%). 
  • Shoppers prefer to shop for apparel and footwear in-store. Apparel is consumers’ top category to shop for in-store, cited by 60% of survey respondents, followed by footwear (58%), home goods (51%) and beauty (47%).  
  • Expect safety precautions to become permanent additions to brick-and-mortar. 77% of shoppers would like hand sanitising stations permanently adopted by physical retail stores. 21% of shoppers would also like temperature checks to be integrated permanently in-store. Meanwhile, a significant proportion of older shoppers would like plastic barriers to remain at checkout (46% of Boomers). 
  • Shoppers agree that touchless features improve the in-store experience. When it comes to in-store technologies, contactless payments and buy online, pick up in-store, (BOPIS) options are overwhelming favourites. 81% of shoppers agree that the availability of BOPIS has improved their shopping experience, and 61% said that contactless payments have also elevated their experience in physical stores. The majority of shoppers would like BOPIS options adopted permanently by retail stores (77%), along with contactless payments (62%).  
  • QR codes haven’t taken off yet, but are resonating with shoppers. At the same time, only 48% of respondents have used QR codes while shopping, 79% of shoppers who have used the technology, either online or in-store, say that it improved their shopping experience.  
  • Shoppers expect an omnichannel experience. 91% of shoppers expect brands to offer online and in-store shopping experiences, and 87% hope brands have a mobile app. 
  • Shoppers would visit an online brand’s physical store if they could. 83% of shoppers say that they would shop in-store at their favourite online-only brand if the brand were to open a brick-and-mortar store in their area.     

It’s worth noting that Klarna’s findings are based on the results of a US survey of over 41,000 Klarna shoppers ages 18+, fielded in January 2021. Definitions of each age group are Gen Z (18-24); Millennials (25-40); Gen X (41-56); Boomers (57-75).

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