UK shoppers increasingly multi-channel – PwC report

19 Apr 2011

Nearly one in five UK shoppers are now spending more than half their disposable income online, according to new research from PwC.

Pick ‘n’ Mix – meeting the demands of the new multi-channel shopper, a survey of more than 1,000 consumers, reveals how internet shopping has become routine, with 14pc of people saying they now buying on the web more once than once a week, up from 4pc in 2007.

The key factor for 80pc of consumers is the ability to shop ‘whenever I want’, followed by ‘easier to compare products and offers’.

According to the survey, one in six consumers consider themselves as ‘expert’ online shoppers who are adept at using the internet to get exactly what they want. While typically they are younger and more affluent, almost 20pc are over the age of 55.

More than 90pc of respondents to the survey said they had shopped multi-channel with at least one retailer, with most shopping with two to five preferred brands. The clear leader was Argos, with 65pc of shoppers stating they had shopped multi-channel with them, followed by Tesco with 50pc and Marks & Spencer, 36pc.

Largest differences in shopping behaviour

The biggest differences in shopping behaviour were by product category rather than by age, region, socio-demographics or time since first online purchase. For instance, 66pc of electrical goods shoppers said they would prefer to research online before going to a store, compared to almost 35pc in furniture and homewares and nearly 20pc in fashion.

“Shoppers haven’t abandoned physical stores yet, they are just using them for different things and in different ways,” said Mark Hudson, UK retail and consumer leader, PwC. Our analysis shows that the reason people go to stores is growing increasingly polarised between the two extremes of entertainment and convenience – a number of retailers are already grasping the implications of this trend and are adapting their advertising and store formats accordingly.”

“Our data shows that despite the fact there are now more opportunities for consumers to shop, it’s not prompting them to spend more than they did before,” said Puneeta Mongia, retail strategy and report author, PwC. “Consumers are instead consolidating their spending with their favourite multi-channel retailers – meaning being a ‘favourite brand’ will become increasingly important, and that those without multi-channel propositions may well lose out.

“The winners will be the retailers that are most tuned to their customers’ changing needs, and have the technology and organisational control to get customers the products they want, when they want and in the ways they want to shop.”

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