This article is provided by BRC Associate Member, Shopify.


The last twelve months have been a rollercoaster for independent businesses around the world. The evolution of shopper norms and preferences has hit fast forward and behaviours that may have seemed far off in the future are already now commonplace, if not expected.

This month, we decided to zero in on the retail scene in the UK. We surveyed one thousand consumers in the UK to try and gain perspective and insight into what shoppers want as shops reopen.

Here's a summary of some of our top findings:

  1. In store to online, back to a mixture
  2. Local shopping on the rise
  3. New norms in store
  4. Shopping in person will return

In store to online, back to a mixture

Before the pandemic, around 87% of customers did at least half of their shopping for non-grocery items in person. In the darkest days of full lockdown, this number dropped well below 50%.

This prompted many customers to venture into new online shopping in categories like alcoholic beverages and luxury items for the first time during the pandemic.

The pandemic has also forced many businesses to get creative with how they can blur the lines between online and in-store shopping.

Click and collect, call and collect, and local delivery have all helped many businesses weather the uncertain lockdown conditions they may find themselves in day-to-day. Customers now see these fulfillment methods as a major value add even post-pandemic.

Our survey found that customers who may have been reluctant to shop online before are now comfortable with and accustomed to the conveniences offered by these new methods of shopping.

From same-day pickup to local delivery, our report details which flexible shopping options UK customers now expect from retail stores, so make sure to download the full study to learn more.

Local shopping on the rise

More than ever, shoppers are considering local options when thinking about their next purchase.

68% of consumers in the UK believe that shopping locally is important and a majority expect to shop more locally post-pandemic than before. There is a willingness to support local businesses if the experience is convenient, close-by, and if the product is of good quality at a reasonable price.

According to Shopify’s report, 68% of shoppers indicated that a store’s proximity is an important factor in their purchase decision.

However, there are multiple other factors that drive customers to shop locally. Download the guide to discover the other factors customers consider imperative to their local shopping experience.

New norms in store

The pandemic has also accelerated a shift in the experiences customers expect when in store. This shift may be the most pronounced when it comes to payment methods. Consumers in the UK are slowly breaking up with cash.

“I think most things return as before, but people use cash less.” — Survey respondent, New Behaviours in Post-Pandemic UK

70% of shoppers in the UK indicated that the ability to make contactless payments was important to them. 67% have said that it is more important now than before the pandemic.

Preferences are shifting towards tap options on credit and debit cards and mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

According to Shopify’s report, shoppers are more likely to use a mobile wallet to make a purchase post-pandemic than pre-pandemic.

Even as stores begin to reopen and the pandemic abates, health and safety will still remain a priority for UK shoppers. Our report outlines the safety measures that UK shoppers have identified as table stakes when it comes to shopping in-store with peace of mind.

Ensuring your store is prepared to welcome customers back will be an important part of your reopening strategy.

Shopping in person will return

As stores reopen this spring, shoppers will start to head back to physical retail... if stores can provide the experience that they need and crave.

Key drivers for shoppers in the UK to head to a store are:

  • Physical interaction with a product (try it on, taste it, etc.)
  • Browsing shops for new ideas and trends
  • Social aspect - shopping with friends and family members
  • An efficient, yet personal shopping experience

Physical retail still holds an important place with shoppers in the UK, although experiences and norms have shifted and will continue to evolve in the months ahead.

To meet the challenge ahead, businesses will need to adapt, rebuild, and perhaps reinvent some of their existing retail operations.