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One in three UK households up their retail spending in 2022, despite inflation

London, UK, July 18th, 2022MiQ, the leading global programmatic media partner, has today revealed the findings of its new study “Unboxing the global retail consumer”. The research, carried out in May 2022, combines data from digital devices with a survey of over 8000 global consumers across North America, Europe (1000 in the UK), Australia, Southeast Asia, China, and the Middle East, and discovered big changes in consumer attitudes towards retail.

In-person shopping back to pre-pandemic levels, but online reigns supreme

MiQ’s research discovered that everyone wants shopping options, and in-person shopping has even jumped back up to 80% of the pre-pandemic levels in the US and Canada.

But Brits are looking for different products in different places. Daily essentials (54%), luxury products (38%), and home improvement products (40%) will continue to be bought offline, while online platforms will be a major source for consumer electronics (42%) and fashion (34%). 

A whopping 99% of the UK now claim to shop online, with those aged between 18 – 44 doing a larger percentage of shopping online regularly, on average (63%).

“Using the increased engagement across brands’ websites and the open internet, marketers can model consumer intent more aptly and close these deals more effectively,” commented Mike Gray, Director of Client Partnerships, EMEA, at MiQ. “The future is cross-platform campaigns and now they are even easier to execute. Using current technology, you can identify your audiences across the different platforms and target them where it matters the most.”

The UK gets thrifty

The research found that people all over the world have been spending a little over 21% of their household income on essentials over the past 18 months – but this could change. High retail inflation and global supply shortages are expected to make the UK think twice about spending. 

For instance, 46% of audiences around the globe are looking to increase retail spending compared to last year, but, comparatively, UK consumers are tightening the purse strings, with only 35% of UK planning to spend more in 2022 than in 2021. 

But planning to spend less doesn’t equate to buying less. MiQ’s research found that UK consumers are keener for a bargain than ever before. For instance, 73% of Brits are already thinking about having CPG goods in their baskets during the upcoming retail sales.

“We found that consumers in APAC will loosen their wallets, while consumers in Europe and North America will lower their non-essential spending and look for other ways to get deals,” continued Gray. “This may mean changing brands which could hurt brand loyalty. But this gives brands a massive opportunity to convert the financially conservative shopper.

It also puts a strong emphasis on ensuring the right targeting, timing and frequency when thinking about digital and programmatic activation. With consumers re-evaluating disposable income, the need for more efficiency and data smarts increases for marketers – engaging both existing and new consumers.”

Savvy shoppers

With the UK getting smarter with its spending, MiQ found that pre-purchase research and planning remains an integral part of the shopping journey.

The pandemic brought to light a lot of challenges like unavailability of stock, increased delivery time, competitive pricing, and high inflation. This prompted shoppers worldwide to watch their spending. The last year has seen some of these problems disappear but 9% of UK consumers are continuing with the pre-purchase research habits they adopted. For instance, 17% of UK consumers take more than a week before purchasing a big-ticket electronic item, while over a third (36%) take a few days to research home improvement products before making a decision. Meanwhile, one in four consumers use multiple devices when conducting their research online, while two in five also switch between online and offline research forums.

The stress on household incomes is real and forces consumers to give their purchases a second thought. In the UK, three in four people have already started their festive holiday shopping wish lists.

“Brands and marketers have been very busy trying to adapt to evolving consumer habits, supply chain disruptions and geopolitical shifts worldwide,” commented Gray. “The evolution of shopping behaviours has not made it easy, leaving brands with the task of going the extra mile to not only find, but keep consumers that are smarter than ever.

We’re seeing many sophisticated brands seriously rethinking their digital purchase funnel, especially with the data confirming the multi-screen, device and on-off line journey when it comes to consumer research habits. Less than a week’s window of buyer research gives brands a plethora of digital opportunities around awareness and consideration to purchase. Conversely, with many consumers planning six months ahead – always-on branding, through to efficient conversion strategies, continues to be paramount for the savvy marketer in an increasingly fragmented and competitive landscape.”