New Research Shows How Consumer + SME Behaviour Shifted During Lock-down, And With The High Street Reopening

New research from the Internet Association (IA) revealed today, that over a third of Brits have tried a local, small restaurant/shop for the first time, – by ordering online during the Corona-virus lock down(s).

71% of SME’s surveyed, – are planning to continue selling their products online after the end of lock-down. The latest Internet Association (IA) research highlights how changing consumer habits has created new revenue streams, – both during the pandemic, and into the future.

As non-essential retail and restaurants reopened their doors this Monday (12th April, 2021), the findings, – which include(s) new public opinion research, and a survey of 250 SME’s in the wholesale, retail and food sectors, – shows how the internet played a vital role in helping SME’s to continue selling their products throughout the pandemic, + how shopping behaviours might change after lock-down. 

The extent to which the internet has given SME’s the opportunity to continue selling their products throughout the pandemic is clear: 30% offered a delivery function for the first time, and 20% launched online for the first time, in order to continue earning revenue, whilst their shops were shut. 

The new research (conducted by Public First on behalf of the Internet Association (IA), shows that:

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  • Nearly half of the public (48%) ordered food or drinks online from local restaurants during coronavirus lock-down(s).
  • 36% of the public tried a local shop, or a local food outlet for the first time, – by ordering online during the pandemic, with three quarters (76%) of those customers now planning to visit the outlet physically for the first time, once restrictions are eased.
  • More people plan on taking a blended approach to their shopping habits, moving forward, – with 29% now saying that they will shop half online, and half in person.
  • When asked about their pre-pandemic sales, 17% of SME’s said that they had a mixture of online and in-store sales. 

An IA spokesperson said: “This new research shows how the internet has played a vital role during the lockdowns over the last 12 months. More importantly, it also shows how the internet can help drive the UK recovery forward. The way people work, shop, and do business may have changed for good. It is clear that the internet sector can help to ensure that those changes boost the UK economy, communities, and wider society.”

This new research of SME’s also showed that 61% of SME’s surveyed, said that their business would not have been able to survive without using the internet to sell products during lock-down(s), and that 20% had set up a social media page for the first time, helping firms to expand their reach, whilst physical shops had to be closed.

This research coincides with the recent report by GlobalData, that showed that multi-channel retail adoption rose during the 2020 holidays, despite lock-downs.