An image of 4 different brightly coloured paper bags.

Blackhawk Network has conducted research into how COVID-19 has changed the UK’s payment habits.

Key highlights include:

  • 3 in 5 people say the presence of gloves and masks will keep them from visiting physical retail locations
  • Nearly half of shoppers have replaced shopping in retail stores with online purchases
    • Plus – older shoppers (over 55’s) are the biggest converts
  • The majority of 25 – 34 year olds feel negatively when brands reference COVID-19 in promotions and discounts

Blackhawk Network reveals change in UK retail sector’s payment habits during COVID-19

The high street was struggling long before COVID-19, but according to a new report from Blackhawk Network, visible signs of the pandemic could prevent consumers returning to stores – 3 in 5 people say the presence of gloves and masks will keep them from visiting physical retail locations. What’s more, overall online purchases are up 45% on the previous year as nearly half of shoppers have replaced shopping in a retail store with online purchases. Older shoppers (over 55’s) have been found as the biggest converts, with over half (51%) making more online purchases than ever before.

Other key stats include:

  • Almost two-thirds (65%) want brands to promote and advertise as they did before COVID-19, with the majority of 25 – 34 year olds feeling negatively when brands reference COVID-19 in promotions and discounts
  • Over 4 in 5 people feel safe receiving online shopping deliveries at home, with almost half (46%) currently feeling unsafe shopping at physical retail locations.
  • 75% of people expect some permanent changes to their shopping experiences as a result of COVID-19 precautions
  • 46% of people are purchasing from retail stores less than they were a year ago

Matt Howe, Managing Director of EMEA, at Blackhawk Network, said: “COVID-19 has brought in many changes and it’s not surprising that many of these will likely continue well beyond the pandemic, and possibly even change consumer behaviour permanently. One of these changes is our payment methods, thanks to the encouragement from stores to use contactless methods, along with a spike in online shopping. The key to success, even for the retailers that have stayed open during lockdown such as supermarkets, is going to be about reassurance and making customers feel safe while in-store, but not intimidated or scared about the safety measures in place.”

Other stats from the report include:

  • 39% of people describe themselves as a ‘deal seeker and bargain hunter’, with 31% of online shoppers wanting a discount on a product more than any other special offer
  • Almost a quarter of shoppers (22%) have received a digital gift card that can be used in multiple retailers or brands, but 35% are interested in receiving one
  • 28% of online shoppers use a digital or physical gift card at once a week
  • 16% of online shoppers use PayPal once a week
  • 7% of online shoppers still use a cheque weekly. Of these shoppers, 21% aged 25-44 compared to 4% of 45+
  • 83% of employees like being rewarded for working hard, and 82% agree that receiving gifts or rewards from their current employer makes them feel valued
  • 47% of employees would prefer to be rewarded with some form of physical or digital gift card or prepaid card, with being rewarded a day off coming in at second (20%)
  • Just 15% of employees have received a digital gift card that can be used in multiple retailers or brands, but 27% are interested in receiving one

Methodology

The survey was conducted online by Sapio Research and Blackhawk Network in June 2020 using an email invitation and an online survey. The survey was conducted among 2007 interviews with UK consumers that regularly shop online – representative by age, gender, and region. At an overall level, results are accurate to ± 2.2% at 95% confidence limits assuming a result of 50%. It should be noted that the research was carried out during the coronavirus pandemic.