shopping

After more than a year in a pandemic, consumers say they’re ready to get back to brick-and-mortar.

According to a new global research report by Mood Media, the on-premise media solutions company dedicated to elevating the customer experience, 80 percent of consumers now feel “somewhat comfortable” or “very comfortable” visiting physical stores.

In fact, 60 percent of survey respondents told the company they plan to revert back to pre-pandemic shopping habit levels by or before the end of this year and 21 percent of respondents say their shopping habits have already returned to pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, only 5 percent of consumers across the U.S., U.K., China and France said they “do not feel comfortable at all” returning to stores.

“We’re experiencing a healthy buzz as shops reopen to a ‘new normal’ throughout the world,” said Scott Moore, global chief marketing officer at Mood Media. “Consumers are eager to get back into stores to experience the joy of shopping again. This new study validates what we are seeing and hearing every day — both online and offline play an important role in retail, oftentimes in harmony with one another. That balance is now returning with solid foot traffic in shops around the world.”

When asked what they missed most about the in-store shopping experience during the pandemic, 45 percent of respondents said it was the experience of “touching and trying on” items, 35 percent said it was the “fun and social experience of shopping with friends and significant others” and another 35 percent said they missed the opportunity to bring home a purchased item immediately — pointing to benefits that do not exist when shopping online.

Notably, 54 percent of consumers told the company that shopping in-store “feels good” and 33 percent said it “feels really good.”

Still, consumers said they have enjoyed the merging of the physical and digital retail experience with 33 percent of global respondents and 38 percent of U.S. respondents citing plans to continue using buy online, pick up in store services after the pandemic.

“The pandemic placed pressure on stores to innovate at a faster pace, leading to an accelerated ‘physical’ evolution which merges the physical and digital shopping experience,” Moore said. “The survey highlights key physical trends that will be a focus for retailers and the customer journey beyond the here and now. Consumers have told us they want click and collect and buy online, pick up in store options to continue well beyond the pandemic. And in China, we’re seeing longevity in the future of virtual try-ons and QR codes.”

Overall, the survey also found that consumer spending is on the rise. Globally, 84 percent of survey respondents said there is no significant difference in the amount they are currently spending compared to pre-pandemic, though 23 percent of consumers indicated an uptick in spending from September 2020 to June 2021.

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