Get in-step with the post-Covid consumer

Every month we share a bunch of up-to-date retail stats that are produced by the British Retail Consortium and the most recent, which cover activity in June, went out on Friday (members can find them here).

In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best of news to send you away with for the weekend. A depressing triple whammy with overall sales down by 1% in total, high street footfall still struggling to get back to anywhere near pre-pandemic levels and prices rising by the highest rate since October 2008. See what I mean?

So as a midweek pick-me-up I thought what I would do is try to provide a slightly more positive slant, by talking you through some research that has been done by Google on the current shopping trends they have identified from analysing particular search engine returns.

To give this a little more context; in the face of increased uncertainty due to factors such as rising costs, lower disposable income and concerns about the effects of global events how has the retail consumer adapted their behaviour?


The key findings of the research are as follows;

  • Since 2010 Google had observed fewer consumers searching for ‘cheap’, while searches for ‘best’ had been increasing. However, since the beginning of this year, there has been an increase in consumers looking for ‘cheap’ products and services.
  • Demand is shifting from ‘lifestyle’ to more functional expenditure. As an example, travel and tourism queries have slowed down, while searches for ‘dining’ and ‘nightlife’ have slowed significantly. This suggests consumers are starting to feel the pinch.
  • Google are also seeing a decline in searches for big ticket items, with demand slipping into negative growth for house and car purchases.
  • More consumers are searching for ‘refurbished iPhones’, while search queries for ‘new iPhones’ are declining.

No real surprises in some respects, but interesting nevertheless, and whilst the move away from big ticket items could be seen as a concern it might equally leave space available for musical instruments sales to exploit. An instrument upgrade or a new accessory could be the trade-off treat for those deciding against a holiday this year.

Also does this data point towards a grinding halt in consumer spending, or could we infer that musicians may be looking for something different – such as B stock or second hand. Is now a good time to push that to the fore of your summer offer?

Post-Lockdown Trends

What was very interesting in the research was how are we using online as consumers post-pandemic;

  • Online used to be a channel for lower funnel purchasing behaviour, but today consumers increasingly see online as a place for discovery and inspiration. Purchase interest is outpacing purchase intent across all retail categories, which means it looks like window shopping online appears to be here to stay.
  • With consumers spending more time online they are being exposed to new brands and retailers. One example is the fashion category, where consumers are increasingly trying new brands. Google’s data shows that almost half of consumers bought electronics from new retailers or brands in the past 6 months, with online driving most of this new behaviour.
  • There has been a significant increase in searches for ‘near me’ as consumers look for products and services near them.
  • As lockdown restrictions have been lifted, the online behaviour observed during lockdowns is enduring and continues to be ahead of in-store purchasing.  Two thirds of consumers now browse online before purchasing in store.

All of this screams ‘digital footprint’, if you haven’t got some way for consumers to find you, and interact with you, you are going to be left behind. The fact that people are open to trying new brands is a big positive and would suggest they are looking for inspiration.

And of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean a website. The fact that ‘near me’ is growing should be a huge hint for any retailer that now is the time to work on building a digital community in your geographical locale.

Movin’ On Up

If you strip out the inevitable reaction to the cost-of-living challenges, then there is quite a lot of positive in this report, as well as quite a lot of opportunity for the MI space. 

We need to be asking ourselves how well do we manage our digital progress and how often do we review the stats & output. Can consumers interact with us easily across both our digital & physical infrastructure and how well do we nurture interest online, and funnel it into our stores.

Further Information

If you want some inspiration for your digital marketing the MIA is hosting a session on TikTok with Hel Reynolds of Comms Creatives on 21st July at 10am, we have a few spaces left and you can register here

Hel has previously run sessions on Facebook, Instagram and Email marketing which are all available on demand just email Alice for more details

The Governments Help To Grow scheme is a great way for SMEs to receive grants to offset the cost of Digital infrastructure, watch back the session we did with Laurance of BEIS

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