Global: What kind of stores are shoppers returning to first?

Cheryl Kar
August 18, 2021, 7:23 AM UTC

The pandemic encouraged consumers in many countries to opt for online shopping. Of course, the convenience of ‘browse-select-and-pay’ has appealed to many, but does it pose a threat to retailers?

A recent YouGov survey across 17 markets finds that four in five global consumers have paid a visit to a grocery store in the last month (81%) while three in five say that they have been to a pharmacy in-person (60%). In many markets, up to two-fifths of the respondents in our survey said that they have been to a clothes store (41%) over the same period. Banks and technology stores have been visited by 35% and 21% of global consumers respectively in the last month. 

Grocery stores are popular in Europe 

While visiting a grocery store is common amongst consumers in most markets of the survey, respondents in Europe, except those in France, top our list. This is evident in Poland (94%), Spain (92%) and Denmark (91%). However, the audience is comparatively smaller in North America (84% in urban Mexico and 81% in the US) and shrinks still more in the Asian market (70% in online Hong Kong, 65% in urban India and 61% in online China). Digging deeper into the data also suggests that globally older respondents are more likely to have visited a grocery store than the younger age cohorts over the last month – perhaps vaccine rollouts have been encouraging the elderly to step out and go back to familiar businesses. 

In-person visits to pharmacies persist globally  

In many markets, the pandemic gave rise to multiple e-pharmacies that helped consumers skip queues and get medicines delivered to their doorsteps. But that did not stop people from taking a trip to a pharmacy in the last month, according to our data. In Europe, a substantial majority of consumers in Spain (76%), Poland (75%), Italy (74%) and France (73%) said they have visited a pharmacy. In Great Britain, this audience narrows down to 49% – with older respondents showing a greater tendency to visit a pharmacy than younger ones. More than half of the respondents in the UAE (59%), US (54%), urban India (56%) and online China (53%) also say they have visited a pharmacy in the last month. The data further suggests that women are more likely than men to have visited a pharmacy (52% vs 48%). 

Clothing stores in Spain can expect a steady footfall 

Of the 17 markets in our study, consumers in Spain, followed by those in the UAE, Poland and Italy are most likely to say that they have visited a clothes store over the last month (56%, 54%, 53% and 53% respectively). It’s possible that the easing of lockdown restrictions in these markets has helped retailers see a rebound. Our data also indicates that when it comes to visiting a clothes store in-person, it’s 25-34-year-olds who come second to respondents above 55 years (23% vs 27%). 

Consumers in emerging markets are visiting banks 

Mobile banking has seen a steady growth in developed markets such as the US. In emerging markets, however, mobile banking may still take time to gain popularity since our data reveals that more than half of the consumers here have paid a visit to a bank (59% in urban Mexico, 54% in online Indonesia and 52% in online China). In the US, the percentage dips to 39%, while in Great Britain, Sweden and Denmark it’s just 21%, 12% and 8% respectively. 

In post-pandemic times, is there hope for technology stores? 

It is consumers in online Hong Kong who lead in visiting a technology store in the last month (38%). Closely following are Emiratis (36%), Poles (33%) and Italians (31%). But the figures fall sharply in the US (13%), Germany (11%) and Great Britain (7%) – suggesting that consumers here may remain reliant on online purchasing. 

The pandemic hit retailers hard, but our data indicates that there’s hope – as consumers worldwide are stepping out for groceries, medicines and to an extent clothing. However, banks and technology stores are less essential in real life destinations while consumers either meet their needs online or choose not to fulfil them at all while the pandemic persists. 

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Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 509 and 2012 for each market. All interviews were conducted online in June 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.