New Irish Shopping Habits in COVID-19: Virgin Media Business Survey 2020

  1. Virgin Media Business has conducted a new survey of over 1,500 Irish consumers on their shopping habits in 2020.
  3. Following a year of turmoil, caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, routine tasks like going to the shops have changed considerably.
  5. We wanted to explore how 2020 has changed people’s shopping habits andpreferences and give retailers some fresh insight as they prepare for what’slikely to be the most critical Christmas shopping season to date.
  7. The survey found that while levels of discomfort in brick and mortarstores are understandably high, anxiety is considerably less in local shopscompared to city centre shops. Unsurprisingly, most have dialed up the amountof shopping they are doing online.
  9. Opportunity for Local Retailers
  10. Shoppers report varying levels of discomfort in retail environments,depending on the specific type of store. 31.7% reported feeling “not at allcomfortable” in shopping centres and a similar number (31.5%) felt the same incity centre shops.
  12. However the number of “not at all comfortable” responses reducedgreatly when asked about shopping in supermarkets (15.4%) and local shops(14.9%) with the majority of respondents placing themselves in the middle ofthe 1-5 comfort scale (where 1 signals “not at all comfortable” and 5 signals“very comfortable”).
  14. It appears that while city centre and shopping centre based retailersmay continue to struggle if non-essential retail is allowed to reopen, localretailers in smaller towns may actually fare better when it comes to footfalland the sales.
  16. You can’t afford not to be online
  17. You won’t be at all surprised to hear that 2020 has seen shoppers flockto online. 46.7% of respondents reported doing more shopping online since thespread of COVID-19. 32% are doing about the same amount of shopping online.Only 14.7% report having never shopped online before. The way things are going,you can only expect that number to decline further.
  19. One of the positives to come out of this year is the creativity andadaptability shown by many Irish retailers to pivot their business to online inthe face of unprecedented challenges.
  21. For example,,who previously provided in-person first aid and safety training, brought theirtraining courses online for the first time in light of the restrictions broughtabout by the pandemic. Not only did they bring their existing offering online, Safecoalso launched a brand new service providing COVID-19 compliance officer training.
  23. Check out a host of other innovative Irish businesses who optimisedtheir approach and took part in Virgin’s #BackingBusiness initiative.
  25. For those who are online, there’s room toimprove
  26. However, even if your retail business is established online, it’simportant to remember that the digital landscape changes quickly and the barfor online shoppers’ expectations rises even faster. While 18% of respondentscouldn’t think of any drawback to shopping online, 28% said the returns processwas the biggest drawback, followed by delivery times (20%).
  28. While large retailers can cover the cost of returns relatively easily,for small retailers, facilitating returns can be costly. But there are stepsyou can take to optimise returns for you and your customers.
  30. I’m dreaming of an online Christmas
  31. While at the time of writing, we’re hopeful that brick and mortarretailers will be able to open their doors to customers again this December,there’s no changing the fact that most people intend to do the majority oftheir Christmas shopping online.
  33. 45% of all respondents reported that they intend on doing most or allof their Christmas shopping online this year. When we asked this question in2018, only 27.6% of respondents gave this answer. There has been a clearturnaround in people’s propensity to buy their Christmas gifts online.
  35. It’s important to remember that 2020 has been tough economically formany, not just retailers. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on Christmas spending. We asked our survey respondents whether they intended tospend more or less on Christmas gifts this year. Interestingly, the majorityreported that they plan to spend the same amount (48%) or more (11%) than lastyear. 41% plan to spend less.
  37. “All I want for Christmas is…”
  38. In 2018, when we asked the open ended question, “What do you want forChristmas?” the top 5 looked like this:
  39. Money (6.3%)
  40. Nothing (4.2%)
  41. Clothes (3.7%)
  42. Car (3%)
  43. Perfume (2.2%)
  45. In 2020, and a true symbol of current times, clothes, cars and perfumehave been replaced by books, a vaccine and good health:
  46. Nothing (4.3%)
  47. Money (3.2%)
  48. Books (2.6%)
  49. A vaccine (2.5%)
  50. Health (2.3%)
  52. As is often the case, some of the most revealing answers lie just belowthe surface. These include:“Love” (1%), “dumbbells” (>1%), “vouchers so I can support locallater” (>1%), “lack of attitude from my teenager” (<1%), “to see familyand friends with no restrictions” (<1%) and of course, the beloved “wet pubs”(>1%).
  54. About the survey Virgin Media Business’s New Irish Shopping Habits in COVID-19 survey was conducted inOctober 2020 via an online survey of 1,500 consumers aged 18 and older inIreland. Respondents were asked a series of questions related to shoppingpreferences. For more information about Virgin Media Business, please visit 

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