Today’s consumers are experiencing a renewed appreciation of the value of retail, as well as the importance that shopping brings to their quality of life.

During the difficult two or three years we’ve just gone through, we’ve had many of our comforts taken away from us. One of these was the simple joy of being able to pop out to the local stores and have a browse. And while everyone was glad when shops begun reopening, it’s only now that we are really starting to grasp how important the high street is in our lives.

It may be part of that renewed appreciation that has influenced how much the line has blurred between shopping as a means of acquiring desired items and other functions. These include socialising, as a place to seek entertainment (what is known as the ‘discovery’ phase of the consumer journey, where we look for ideas and shopping inspiration from our leisure activities), and as a crucial part of the community. And while it is true that hybrid shopping – encompassing both bricks and mortar and online – gives us the best of both worlds, we are happiest when we still have the option of both.

How consumer behaviour has changed in recent times was one of the emerging retail trends that Capita explored as part of research we carried out earlier this year, which we’ve used to form our report Rethinking Retail – available to download now.

In total, 59% of all those interviewed agree that their attitude to the industry has changed. With this changing sentiment comes a new recognition of the value that retail delivers. One in 10 said the pandemic has been a wakeup call to the importance shopping brings to their quality of life.

Personal experience of colleagues providing food, clothing, fuel and wider goods, often at risk to themselves, has led to over one in four recognising those in retail as key workers who deserve better. One in seven felt they had taken retail for granted and didn’t realise how important it is to their local community, in terms of social interaction, employment and dependability. And many told us about how valuable they find the high street: such as the 24% who see their high street as a point of pride for the local community, and prefer to support local businesses as a result, or the 27% who commented on its social importance – how it provides the opportunity to interact with people they know and to socialise.

Recent times also appear to have sparked a realisation of the contribution retail plays to UK PLC. Almost a quarter of shoppers agree that they now appreciate more how important the industry is to jobs and our economy.

To access more exclusive insights, download the full Rethinking Retail report, where you’ll find more about shoppers’ changing attitudes to the retail industry, along with insights into other key trends – such as which technologies are must-haves to give shoppers the experiences they crave, and what matters most to each generation of shoppers when it comes to responsible retailing.

In total, 3,000 consumers were interviewed nationwide during the research, conducted by specialist retail research agency Opinium. The subjects were split by the five key purchasing generations: Gen Z (18-24), Millennials (25-40), Gen X (41-56), (Baby) Boomers (57-75) and those aged 76+. As well as focusing on those different generations, Opinium’s data scientists have taken the research a stage further and defined six distinct new shopper personas for retailers; they’ve done this by combining the report data with behavioural overlays on attitudinal biases, purchasing channel preferences and technology usage.

Download Capita’s full report ‘Rethinking Retail’
Other useful resources for retail

Written by

Andy McDonald

Andy McDonald

Andy McDonald is a Retail & Logistics industry-focused leader with an international perspective helping companies deliver on their strategic goals. With over 25 years of experience, Andy is regarded as a specialist in Digital Customer Engagement, Contact Centre Strategy and Customer Experience Analytics. Having an engineering background, Andy prides himself on remaining customer-focused while balancing technology and service-based investments on behalf of this clients.

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