Rise of the globetrotting shopper

A report into UK shopping habits has shown that, when translated into physical distances, the average consumer travelled more than 6,000 miles last year when shopping, an increase of 1,500% since 2005.

Findings from The Unfaithful Consumer report, commissioned by leading reward programme provider Webloyalty and conducted by retail research agency Conlumino, highlight the ever-changing retail landscape and what UK retailers must do to stay ahead of the curve to keep their customers loyal.

The rise in multi-channel and e-commerce has substantially changed the way UK consumers shop, empowering them to browse, compare and buy products from across the globe. The distance digitally ‘travelled’ per year has surged, from 50 miles in 1995 to 358 in 2005, a 1,500% increase in the last 10 years. This means that in 2015, the average shopper could have ‘travelled’ all the way to Russia and back.

The figures were calculated based on consumers’ use of both stores and websites across a year and on the physical distance they would have travelled from where they were based at the time they researched, browsed or made a purchase. With stores, for example, it is the physical distance travelled from home or work to the outlet. For online purchases made via UK websites, it is the distance from the consumer’s home to the nearest city where they would have found the product.  With foreign websites based overseas, the distance is the number of miles between the UK and the other country.

In addition, globalisation, the growth of the online retail space, the increased competition, and the desire for consumers to have products that are more personalised, have all contributed to an explosion of choice.

The report also highlighted the difference between what was available over 40 years ago compared to what is accessible now. For example, there are over 12,000 types of wine and champagne readily available to consumers in the UK today compared to 37 in 1970.

Guy Chiswick, managing director at Webloyalty Northern Europe, said: “Shoppers have become increasingly globalised, stretching their geographical footprint to browse, compare and buy in every corner of the world. Because of this expansion of choice and the technology that has become available, consumers are feeling empowered and retailers are finding it even harder to remain relevant.

“Digital disruption has changed the shopping experience. The fear of buying without trying first has mostly disappeared. Retailers have introduced more flexible return and refund policies, making the shopping experience more convenient. Consumers have also become more reliant on their peers, with online reviews and social media now powerful influencers in customer loyalty.”

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