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Time spent shopping by UK consumers drops by over a quarter reveals new national IPA TouchPoints data

Consumers are spending 28% less time shopping than we were 13 years ago* reveals new IPA TouchPoints data published today (12 September 2018).


Shopping in person drops dramatically

The comprehensive data, which details how consumers are spending our daily lives and how our media consumption fits into this, reveals telling insights into shopping habits, including how shopping in person has fallen. Key stats reveal that since 2014 there has been:

  • a 4% drop in us visiting a shop at a shopping centre (in or out of town) each month – now accounting for 51% of us.
  • a 5% drop in us visiting a local high street at least once a month or more – now accounting for around three quarters of us visiting one.
  • a 10% drop in us visiting a major high street once a month or more – now accounting for 41% of us.
  • a 17% drop in us visiting a local corner shop or newsagent once a month or more – now accounting for 67% of us.

Online shoppers click for convenience

Concurrent to the decline in shopping in person, online shopping has grown by 17% in the four years from 2014 to 2018, with 41% of us now shopping online for anything - including groceries.

Looking at grocery shopping specifically, 13% of us do most of our grocery shopping online these days. This figure rises to 18% of those who live in London.

The data also reveals that convenience and immediacy are rated highly. For example, 24% of us agree that we are prepared to pay more for goods if they can be delivered within two hours of the purchase.

New online service Click and Collect is also adding to online shopping activity, with 42% of us having used Click and Collect services to purchase any non-grocery products online.

Challenges for retailers

The TouchPoints data reveals that despite the take-up of online shopping, it has a number of disadvantages as cited by consumers. For example, while 64% of us like the convenience of online shopping, we say that returning goods is a pain and puts us off buying certain things.

Furthermore, 30% of us say that when we buy goods online we are often disappointed because what we see online is not a good enough representation of what is actually delivered.

Opportunities for retailers

On the local high street or in town centres, one solution to encourage more footfall could be to address high parking fees and general parking restrictions, as the survey reveals that 44% of us say we are put off for these reasons.

In the online environment, the data cites that 3% of us have used augmented reality on our phones which, while low, could enable retailers to use this to give their shoppers a better feel for the product/service they have purchased, helping to manage their expectations better.

Retailers should also take into account people’s mood states when it comes to our shopping activity. As TouchPoints reveals, when shopping in person in a shop, our emotions tend to skew towards positive emotions (positive, relaxed, ok/fine and happy). Nearly three quarters of our time spent shopping in person in a shop is when we are in these mood states. However, our mood is very different when we are shopping online. Positive mood states (positive, confident, relaxed, ok/fine and happy) only account for 47% of our time spent shopping online. The more negative emotions (bored, frustrated, angry, sad, stressed and tired) account for 17% of our time spent shopping online. The opportunity for retailers is to tap into these different mood states and ensure that the shopping experience is appropriate for the mood.

Says Belinda Beeftink, Deputy Research Director, IPA: “This latest data brings in to sharp relief the contrast between off and online shopping activity. It is perhaps inevitable that improvements in technology, in the form of faster broadband speeds, better and more devices and slicker websites and apps, have all helped boost the take-up of online shopping activity. For an increasingly time-poor society, we place a great deal of value on the convenience and speed at which we can purchase products and have them delivered. With technology developments showing no sign of abating, online shopping will no doubt continue its upward trend, unfortunately to the detriment of the high street.”


For more information about TouchPoints please contact Belinda Beeftink or Dan Flynn.

Last updated 20/09/2018

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