As retailers prepare for their busiest time of year, Elavon Europe’s Michael Bosshammer examines consumers’ main motivations to spend

It can be hard to believe, wandering around our favourite stores mask-free – without the need to wrestle sanitiser stations or maintain a social distance – that the days of tight pandemic restrictions are only 18 months behind us.

Creating the biggest threat to high street retail since the 2008 financial crash, the Covid pandemic changed shopping behaviours in irrevocable ways – ecommerce boomed, and customers became accustomed to fulfilling their shopping needs from the comfort and safety of their homes.

But, while the ease and convenience of online shopping can’t be disputed, pandemic pressures weren’t enough to mark high street retail obsolete – far from it.

While online spending continues to grow at an impressive rate, offline purchases still account for a whopping 79.5% of global retail sales.

So, what’s the incentive? As high street shopping becomes a regular pastime once again, we asked more than 1,000 UK adults to share their top reasons for shopping in store. From getting social to supporting local, read on to explore Elavon’s insights on what is really driving in-store spending. 

Getting close and personal

We’ve all been victims of an online purchase that looks nothing like you expect it to when it arrives in the post. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the ability to see an item in person was the top-rated reason to shop in store, chosen by 72% of respondents.

This was closely followed by the ability to assess an item’s quality in person, which was selected by 61% of respondents. 

A need for speed

While Jeff Bezos’ revolutionary ecommerce model has many of us accustomed to next-day delivery as standard, sometimes next day just isn’t quite quick enough.

Of all participants included in our study, 60% said they opt for in-store shopping when they need something urgently. 

Stealing deals

In a similar vein, more than half of respondents (52%) said a desire to take advantage of in-store promotions and offers was a key motivator to shop in store.

This presents an opportunity for retailers seeking to increase footfall within stores and encourage greater spending with multibuy offers and loyalty schemes. 

Social shopping

After pandemic restrictions limited the collective shopping experience, it’s evident that some shoppers are returning to bricks-and-mortar stores with a social motive. Some 28% of participants reported that the social side of shopping encourages them to shop in store, an incentive that was particularly prevalent for women and younger demographics (34% and 36%, respectively).

Retailers are beginning to capitalise on this trend, shaping their retail spaces into ‘destination stores’ that offer more than just shopping. They might include a cafe or comfortable places to sit, as well as wide aisles and inviting music that encourage shoppers to spend time with others as they browse and buy.

Supporting local

While the pandemic brought home the enjoyment of the ‘social shopping’ experience, it also encouraged more of us to shop local. In a bid to reduce our individual carbon footprint and support local economies, more than half of us are placing a greater focus on shopping locally than we did before the pandemic.

This was reflected in our own research, with 41% of participants expressing a desire to shop in store to support their local high street. 

The pandemic may have shifted retail in significant ways, but this research highlights the opportunities available to retailers to cater to new consumer behaviours.

Prioritising in-store offers and promotions and elevating the in-store shopping experience are just two of the ways retail businesses can encourage visits to bricks-and-mortar stores and drive higher sales well into the future.

To explore more fascinating findings from this research study click here. Or, you can check out Elavon’s full hub of insights for retailers here.


Michael Bosshammer is head of retail at Elavon Europe