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Covid lockdown drives online retail use by over 65s

October 2020

18-24s use dropped more than other age groups & easing of lockdown has little impact on shopping behaviour

New research from Whistl, the leading delivery management company in the UK, has found that 36% of online shoppers increased their frequency of online retail purchases during the Covid lockdown period.  Interestingly while 49% of over-65s increased their online purchase frequency, 28% of 18-24 year olds reduced their online spend.

With the easing of restrictions, 63% of the UK population have maintained their online lockdown shopping habits, with 15% still increasing their frequency of purchasing online.

Respondents were asked what items they would normally have bought in a shop, but as a result of lockdown, they purchased online. The three most popular categories were clothing (49%), health and personal care (35%), and books (30%). Since the easing of lockdown and the opening of physical shops, there has been a small fall in online purchases but not a significant shift back to the high street.

During Lockdown (Mid March-June Easing Lockdown (July- Sept)
Clothes/Fashion 49% 45%
Health & Personal Care 35% 29%
Books 30% 25%
Gifts 27% 23%
Electronic Equipment 26% 19%
Garden & Outdoors 25% 21%
Home & Kitchen Products 23% 20%
Toys & Games 21% 16%
Pet Products 21% 16%
DIY & Tools 20% 17%
CDs/DVDs 16% 15%
Baby & Child Products 12% 10%
Home Office Equipment 12% 10%
Other 3% 2%

However, the pandemic lockdown also had a negative impact on online sales with one in five respondents saying they were reluctant to make a purchase online.  The figure rose to 24% for 18-24yr olds with the over 65s (9%) the least concerned about making a purchase.  Females (20%) were also more reluctant than men (15%) to make a purchase as were households with children (24%). taking a negative view.

Melanie Darvall, Director Marketing & Communications, Whistl, said: “The lockdown drove many of us to make greater use of the internet, particularly to shop. Our figures show that the over 65s have made a significant shift to shop online which is an important lesson for retailers when looking to increase sales among this demographic.

“With shopping making a significant move on online during the lockdown, both brick and click retailers cannot be complacent, they have to build confidence and deliver the right experience to consumers when making online purchases, given that 20% were reluctant to make a purchase during the lockdown.

“One way to build that confidence is to ensure that the online experience is seamless, with suitable fulfilment and delivery capability that is scalable and meets the specific needs of their target demographic.” The research was undertaken with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK adults.

Download our research infographic here

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