Has shopping changed forever?

The pandemic has changed the way we all buy and sell things. With the High Street temporarily closed, there was a speedy mass migration to online purchasing. As things are opening up again, there are strong indications that consumers are returning to retail – though with some caution and concerns.

Shifting spending habits

The pandemic has meant that for many people, their priorities have shifted. According to our latest research, 66% of people say that their spending plans have been affected by the impact of lockdown since March 2020.

We’ve found that 64% of consumers are still spending less on luxury goods, 60% are laying out less on clothing, and 51% have cut down on home improvement costs. Over a third of people (35%) now say they’ve changed their spending habits for good.

The positive news for retailers is that 30% now have more disposable income compared to the start of the pandemic, a significant increase on July 2020 (20%). The challenge is to persuade those consumers to part with their available funds.

Welcoming customers back in-store

Retail is no longer the social activity it was, pre-pandemic. It may never return to previous levels, but now that the vaccine and booster programme is in full swing, 62% of consumers say they have some confidence shopping in-store – with 23% of them feeling ‘very confident’.

A remarkable 76% of shoppers said the nationwide roll-out of vaccines has made them more confident going out shopping – with 69% saying they’d feel more confident shopping in-store once they’ve been fully jabbed.

What’s stopping some shoppers?

Not everyone is excited about the return to the High Street. Just 28% of people said they’d be more confident shopping in-store once more people are vaccinated – and 25% said stores being more active in enforcing distancing rules would increase their confidence in heading through the doors.

What’s behind this lack of enthusiasm for shopping in-store? 72% said they didn’t trust others to follow social distancing rules. Others (52%) simply didn’t want physical contact with other people, 45% were worried about catching the virus – and 43% said they simply believed it was easier to shop online.

Looking ahead, the challenge for retailers will be creating a retail experience that works for as many customers as possible. One that’s safe, attractive and practical. And that goes for payment options too.

Keeping your customers safe and their confidence high

Having a wide range of online and in store payment methods available could be a great way to help satisfy varying customer demands. And this is where POS finance can be increasingly beneficial to retailers. It provides an alternative and accessible payment option for larger purchases that many consumers wouldn’t have considered, as payment options like this didn’t use to be a readily available.

Retail finance gives shoppers the opportunity to spread the cost and choose an option that comfortably fits their monthly budget giving customers the flexibility to spend a little more on the products and specifications they really want. And our research has shown that 48% of people said that their preferred payment method had changed over the past 12 months, with 33% saying it was because they had grown to favour something that could fit in with their monthly budgeting.

A key feature of retail finance from Barclays Partner Finance is that it’s completely contact-free. Customers can complete their application using their own device, and with over half of respondents (53%) saying that would be more likely to take out retail finance if it reduced the need for physical contact, this could a good reason why you should offer retail finance.

Customers can even verify their identity for additional security using a selfie and photographs of their chosen ID. And when they’re ready to sign the agreement, whether in-store or from the comfort of their own home, our Sign Anywhere capability means everything can be confirmed with a click.

The switch in control during the application process helps to reassure uncertain customers, and could be the difference between a customer choosing to buy from you or walking away.


A world without cash?

Richard Brassey, Head of Business Partnerships, Barclays Partner Finance, and Marc Pettican, President, Barclays Payments, give their thoughts on the direction retail payments are headed and how close we really are to being a cashless society.


The future of retail payments

Joshua Fabian Miller, Product & Proposition Director and Richard Brassey, Head of Business Partnerships, give their thoughts on key consumer trends and how the retail landscape has evolved, as well as taking an in-depth look at this year’s regulatory review and the impact it has had on the retail market. 

Get in touch

To discuss your business requirements and how Barclays can support you, contact us today.


Source: Barclays Partner Finance consumer research based on the responses of 1,006 UK consumers, June 2021.