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Shoppers don’t “feel comfortable” with trying on clothes

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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London - Ahead of June 15, when non-essential retailers are allowed to reopen in England as the coronavirus lockdown begins to ease, auditing firm EY has found that 80 percent of shoppers would not feel comfortable trying on clothes in store.

EY’s Future Consumer Index reveals that consumers remain deeply cautious about returning to the shops, with many of the 1,017 UK consumers surveyed admitting that they were concerned about returning to “normal life,” as only a quarter (25 percent) said they feel comfortable shopping in a grocery store, which has remained a necessity for many people during lockdown.

The report also showed that 45 percent of UK consumers believe the way they shop over the next one to two years will change, with 64 percent stating that they expect to go shopping less frequently, but will spend more when they do. Similarly, 57 percent said that they will be more aware of hygiene and sanitation when shopping in person.

Before Covid-19, factors such as whether a product was organic or sustainable, was defined as a luxury item, or could be personalised were important for many consumers. According to the survey, consumers are now prioritising product availability (59 percent), price (43 percent) and health (41 percent).

Overall, EY’s report highlights that consumers are gearing themselves up to live more risk-averse lives, as more than half (67 percent) expect it to take months or years before they will return to a restaurant, with similar sentiments for visiting cinemas (80 percent) and bars/pubs (73 percent).

Silvia Rindone, partner in consumer product and retail at EY, said in a statement: “UK consumer companies will need to be aware of consumers’ heightened concerns and make every effort to mitigate anxiety if they are to prosper in this new market. Adaptability has always been crucial for any consumer-facing business, but it will be more important than ever for companies if they are to emerge stronger from this pandemic and serve understandably anxious consumers.

“Companies need to think about reinventing their customer experience so that consumers feel reassured that the risk has been minimised. They must go the extra mile to help them feel safe and entice them back into a communal space. The browsing experience, for example, will change. With social distancing, a person’s presence in-store could prevent someone else from entering, lessening browsing time, and making the shopping experience far more transactional. Simplifying the choice for consumers would also be a sensible move, so that every item can be easily seen and purchased.”

Image: FashionUnited