Why European shopping may never be the same post Covid-19

• New research shows that many of the online shopping habits European consumers have adopted over lockdown are here to stay

• 64% of Europeans say they shopped more online during Covid-19 with 89% saying they will continue to shop as much online or even more post-lockdown

• The impact on businesses could be huge with the uptick in buying groceries, home and garden products, and hygiene products all set to stick aroundYour weekly shop may never be the same according to brand new research which shows lockdown may well have permanently changed European consumers buying habits.

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Trading in the shopping trolley for a laptop, the figures show that the huge rise in online shopping during the pandemic will be anything but a flash in the pan, with shoppers keen to continue to log on and check out.

An e-commerce revolution

Covid-19 is ushering in a new age of consumer behaviour according to research which shows the vast majority of Europeans plan to stick to their lockdown online buying habits.

Retailers have seen online sales increase dramatically with 64% of Europeans admitting to shopping more online during Covid-19. In the UK alone, this rapid increase in e-commerce is expected to add £5.3bn to e-commerce sales in 2020, totalling £78.9bn[1].

It looks like this rapid e-commerce revolution is here to stay, with 89% saying they will continue to shop online at the same level or even more post-lockdown.  An overwhelming 91% of European consumers now feel confident about buying items online. One of the categories that has seen the biggest increase during Covid-19 include groceries, with 41% of Europeans reporting an increase in online shopping.

The research is borne out further by statistics from DS Smith, a leading provider of e-commerce packaging in Europe, with the company seeing large increase in packaging demand for food packaging, flowers, and hygiene products sold online since the start of the pandemic.

 The new normal

Even with lockdown easing, DS Smith's research shows that many of these new shopping trends catalysed by Covid-19 are here to stay, with more than half of Europeans planning to continue or increase the habit to buy groceries online (62%). There is a similar trend for hygiene products, and home and garden products.

Many consumers will also continue to opt for meal kits as 49% of would be restaurant goers have realised the joy of staying in. The stats show these numbers are highest in Spain (62%) and lowest in the UK (35%).

The online shopping habits have changed also in other areas, with more than half (52%) say they plan to continue or increase how much they spend on arts and crafts online.

Trying something new

The changes aren’t just about volume. Not only are we buying more online, we’re also buying in new ways. More than two in five (43%) of Europeans said they have signed up to a new shopping website that they hadn’t used before lockdown.  

As a result of these accelerated changes and to meet new customer demand, businesses big and small have been forced to rapidly initiate or adapt e-commerce offerings – a process which may have taken years without the imperative provided by the global pandemic.

Stefano Rossi, Packaging CEO at DS Smith, said “There has been a seismic shift in the way consumers are shopping and we’ve been using our expertise to support businesses of all sizes with the rapid growth of e-commerce so they can survive and thrive through this uncertain time.​

"What's clear is that as lockdown eases further, these trends aren't likely to fall away.  Consumers have found new confidence and convenience in the way they shop, buying a whole range of items online – everything from the family food shop, to toiletries and home and garden products. If companies are not already transforming their business to meet this new age of e-commerce, they risk being left behind.​”

What drives the e-consumer?

Reasons for buying online during the pandemic splits by gender and generation.  Men and younger people prioritise convenience, while women and older generations focus on safety.

However, as a green recovery and building back better becomes a global priority, sustainability is an increasing concern for Europeans post-lockdown. Almost a quarter (23%) are more likely to buy online if items are delivered with less packaging or more sustainable packaging, and 21% are more likely to buy online if their products arrive in more recyclable packaging.

Interestingly, Europeans are also mirroring some of their brick and mortar shopping habits online; half of people have “window shopped” online or kept a wish list during lockdown and over half of Europeans bargain hunt online.

Stefano Rossi, added: “The research shows that greener packaging is a real concern for shoppers and as we help our customers make a green recovery a practical reality and priority through simple measures like adopting sustainable packaging.

“We're keen to help brands and businesses navigate this path and work with them so that they can benefit from sustainable packaging solutions that its very clear their customers desire.”