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How shopping habits have evolved since the pandemic

By Robyn Turk


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Retail |Interview


Our daily habits have changed as a result of the pandemic, across all aspects of life: work, exercise and even fashion. As lockdown restrictions start to ease, it is easier to see just how drastic the effects of the pandemic have been on our choices.

Trend researchers have already noticed that the types of clothing people are shopping for have changed - comfortable fits reign supreme over slimmer silhouettes and loungewear is seemingly more popular than ever. However the ways in which people are shopping have evolved just as much.

Kristen Gall, retail expert and president of Rakuten Rewards, has described new consumer behaviors as “revenge shopping,” which she defines as, “a phenomenon where people are spending money on items and experiences that they felt they were deprived of last year.”

According to Gall’s predictions, consumers will have an increased desire to spend more money on non-essential items.

“As a result of this, consumers will purchase luxury and non-essential items that they have been holding off on purchasing this past year,” Gall told FashionUnited.

“This last year acted as a giant savings account for many people, which means that a large group of people with discretionary income who may not have spent on luxury goods before now actually have the means to treat themselves,” Gall said. Luxury may be that outlet.”

The pandemic affects shopping habits for years to come

Gall describes the future of shopping to reflect a repetition of history, similar to the 1920s following the flu of 1918.

“Revenge shopping will resemble what we saw during the Roaring Twenties, post-WW1 and the last pandemic – a surging economy that will drive consumers to shop for more of the finer things that many felt they were deprived of due to the pandemic,” she explained.

This phenomenon will not be short-lived, though it won’t be forever. Gall advises that consumers will be more comfortable paying higher prices as we emerge from the pandemic, though over time “price sensitivity will normalize and will more closely resemble pre-pandemic habits.”

She said, “In the short term, people will be more comfortable paying higher prices for items. We’ll see a splurge on goods and experiences that they wouldn’t ever have spent on before as a “reward” for making it through the pandemic. The demand for things like travel might actually drive prices up in the short term as well.”

Convenience is more important than ever

A consumer demand for added conveniences in shopping experiences has been on the rise for several years, and in a post-COVIS world, this demand will only get stronger.

“Convenience will only play a bigger role in the way consumers shop, and alternative shopping options we saw bloom during the pandemic will only become the norm,” Gall said.

Retails have already been integrating omnichannel offerings to integrate digital and physical shopping, meeting the consumer where they please. Services like buy online, pick up in-store, curbside pick-up, digital checkout, virtual concierge, will come to be expected by consumers.

The pandemic alters style preferences for future trends

Consumers have two main preferences when it comes to what types of clothes they choose to spend their money on: elevated “going out” styles, and comfortable everyday clothing.

After spending so much time at home over the past year, consumers have come to realize the importance of comfort, and therefore prioritize this when making style choices. At the same time, people have grown bored with basic wardrobe items and crave the opportunity to dress up when they can.

Gall believes these preferences will make themselves known in the coming seasons.

“As a result of relaxed lockdown restrictions and the opportunities to travel and attend more events in person, consumers will purchase items that they can show off,” she said. “The concept of the ‘going-out’ outfit will come back in a big way and we will see people shopping for items like dresses, heels, jewelry, and swimwear.

“Consumers have become accustomed to comfort yet stylish attire that is versatile and can be worn anywhere. While people will be ready to go back to traditional outerwear, comfort will still be a staple in wardrobes. Because of this, we’ll see a fashion fusion that combines dressy with comfort, like dress pants with elastic waistbands.”