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File image of people shopping in Dublin. PA
off the rails

Most consumers ‘not comfortable’ shopping on high street until Covid-19 is under control

68% of consumers reported spending more online in 2020 than they did in 2019.

ALMOST THREE-QUARTERS of consumers say they will not feel comfortable shopping on their local high street until the Covid-19 crisis is better controlled, according to new research.

The report, published by domain management company .IE, shows that just 23% of consumers are currently fully comfortable shopping on their local high street.

The Tipping Point report entitled Irish e-commerce and digital business in the Covid vaccine era, is the second in a series of reports analysing consumer and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) behaviour and attitudes since the pandemic started.

It found that 28% will not feel comfortable until Covid-19 cases are much lower than they are now, with 27% not comfortable until vaccines are available to the general adult population, not just at-risk groups.

Some 16% say they would prefer to wait until the government confirms that social distancing and masks are no longer required, while 6% say they will never feel comfortable shopping in-store on their local high street ever again.

Overall, just 45% believe that life will return close or completely to pre-Covid normality by the end of 2021.

The other 55% believe that life this year will be more or less the same as life in 2020, or even more restricted.

David Curtin, chief executive of .IE, said: “While vaccines offer Ireland a way out of lockdown, until a critical mass is reached and the population is immunised, our economy and society are set to remain in a state of flux.

“This flux is accelerating major trends in how consumers spend and how SMEs sell their goods and services.”

Almost 70% of consumers reported spending more online in 2020 than they did in 2019.

Looking ahead, 58% will prioritise online shopping over in-store shopping in 2021, up from 52% last year.

The 2020 report, published last summer, showed that 53% of consumers reported doing the majority of their online shopping with Irish SMEs since the start of the pandemic, compared to 47% from international retailers.

The 2021 report shows that this figure has now swung back to international retailers, with 49% now saying they have done the majority of their shopping with Irish SMEs since the start of the pandemic.

Almost a third of SMEs now claim to sell a product online in some way, either through a website or third-party platform, up from 25% in 2020.

Almost nine in 10 of that group say they have noticed an increase in their online sales numbers since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

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