While some consumers will return to their pre-pandemic behaviours, the pace of change will continue to pick up, requiring retailers to be bold in embracing creative solutions to transform the customer journey, says PwC Canada.
The consulting firm says its 2020 Consumer Insights Survey, which focuses on the lifestyles and shopping habits of urban consumers, surveyed consumer behaviours in two districting time periods — just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as in March after it began to hit countries around the world.
“It’s hard to overstate the impacts of COVID-19 on the retail sector,” said Myles Gooding, national retail leader at PwC Canada.
“While many consumers say they are more comfortable resuming previous habits around shopping in stores than in other categories, COVID-19 has accelerated many of the shifts retailers have been dealing with for several years.
“Retailers will need to adapt their product mix to reflect the trends shaping the new environment, including the rising interest in locally made, environmentally sustainable and socially conscious products.”
Before the pandemic, consumer confidence was healthy, with significantly more Canadian respondents (34%) saying they expect to spend more in the next 12 months than those looking to decrease their spending (20%).
“But as confidence lags amid ongoing economic uncertainty, we can expect consumers to be more careful with their spending as the lockdown eases, suggesting they’ll gravitate towards products or services that they judge as providing superior value,” the firm stated in a release.
“Even as consumers are saying they likely will return to previous behaviours in some areas, retailers will need to focus on several key shifts in setting out their long-term strategies.
These include paying attention to Gen Z, whose shopping habits will shape buying behaviour and putting more effort into their online and in store experiences.
“The changes required are by no means easy, especially with the added challenges created by COVID-19,” said Gooding. “While some consumers will return to prior shopping behaviours, change is inevitable and it’s the time for retailers to be bold and embrace creative solutions while adapting their operations and transforming their customer journey.”
Click here to access the full report.