The impulse shopping revival
On the American side of the Pacific Ocean, Bloomberg.com carried the story highlighting that the GFC had made us much more planned and far less spontaneous shoppers. Our fear of the future and concern with the present drove a desire to save from mid 2008 onwards. This flowed on to a decrease in impulse purchases within stores, which has now become a clearly developed habit. Impulse purchases are easiest to see in petrol and convenience, and in grocery stores among items such as confectionery, snacks, magazines or soft drinks near the checkout. It's the backbone of the sub $10 consumer packaged goods and magazine industry, and the whole petrol and convenience retail sector, from 7Eleven to BP.
The report said, "whether you call it surgical shopping, mission shopping or shopping like a man, the behaviour is engrained and is a direct threat to traditional retail principles." Not sure that's an accurate analogy as we will see later. To quote Gail Kelly from Westpac, this type of shopping has now become the "new normal".
The report went on to say "impulse sales require consumers to browse the floor. But mission shoppers visit fewer stores and spend less time in the store". The story quotes a ShopperTrak statistic that says shoppers now visit three stores per trip versus five before the GFC. In that time these behaviours have thrown up "curious data" because although retail sales in the US grew 3.5% last year, store traffic declined 0.5%. Traditionally, traffic and sales growth move in tandem, as more shoppers visiting stores are more likely to be wooed to transact an impulsive purchase.
On the Australian side of the Pacific Ocean, Scott Ewing from Swinburne University was publishing the last, and thus most accurate read, on Australian's online shopping habits. The research is based upon, feedback from 1,000 households over three phases since 2007. So it's a very useful tool from which to project growth trends for online retailing in Australia.
Quick sound bites:
- 78% of Australians have now transacted online.
- 66% buy from Australian sites.
- 40% said that the majority of their purchases were from Australian sites.
Now in my humble opinion as a shopper, I truly believe that impulse shopping has become much easier and more prevalent online than in stores. And I have absolutely no evidence other than my gut feel, anecdotal conversations and extrapolating from my own base behaviour of one to the shopper universe.
Humble admission. I buy things on absolute impulse when a new online shopping mailer hits my PC, iPad or phone.
I have too many pairs of motorcycle gloves, too many paddling rashies and way too much wine. I have bought albums or songs twice on iTunes, though four months apart, purchased tickets to see bands and donated money to support friends competing in charity events. All impulsively, all online. Added together over a 12 month period it is not a small amount of money when compared to a weekly grocery bill for a family or utility bill or two.
These are not the traditional items we tend to think of in traditional stores. They weren't chocolate and Cleo, or beef jerky and Overlander magazine. However, in amongst all of our newly developing online shopping habits there must be some trends we can learn from.
My mates Peter Huskins and Norrelle Goldring at Shop-ability may be able to analyse some of our habits and shed some light on our online impulses. Maybe even find a name for us. I'd be happy to be known as "impulsive" in one part of my life.
In his role as CEO of CROSSMARK, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia, NZ, the US and Europe. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for business in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands. CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia's largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia's biggest retailers and manufacturers.