What are retailers and consumers thinking? 6 key research takeaways

The impact of COVID 19 over the previous 18 months has been dramatic on the world in so many ways. 

The impact on retailer and consumer sentiment and behaviour has seen trading conditions characterised by uncertainty and digital adaptation like never before. 

Things can change swiftly in an uncertain environment. Retail Doctor Group has conducted research to help us understand how this consumer and retail behaviour is ebbing and flowing from this period. 

The Consumer and Retail Sentiment 2021 research took place in 3 waves between May 2020 and April 2021 (before recent lockdowns).

Here we cover some of the key findings helping brands to create informed, consumer led strategies.

Consumer Setiment On Franchise Buyer

Economic Confidence

Consumer Behaviour: Most retailers are optimistic about trading. Consumers are far less confident. Men are more confident about their financial situation, especially in the 65+ group.

Retail Strategy: In a time where trust and loyalty are essential, retailers must communicate with customers to understand and respond to their needs, addressing insecurities and concerns. 

Online vs In-Store

Consumer Behaviour: There has been an ongoing shift to online purchasing. However certain consumer groups are still more likely to prefer a physical store. With COVID, click and collect is declining in popularity however remains essential for certain groups.

Retail Strategy: Physical retail is still paramount for consumers. Retailers must monitor core audience behaviours and review both online and offline consumer touch points. 

Online Shopping On Franchise Buyer


Consumer Behaviour: 1 in 5 consumers (particularly women) are significantly influenced by loyalty schemes. Most members of loyalty schemes say it influences their purchase behaviour.

Retail Strategy: Every brand needs to review their loyalty scheme and do a stocktake on whether it aligns with consumer purchase drivers. 

Digital Experience In-Store

Consumer Behaviour: Digital interactions in store at point of sale are still surprisingly low (screens, augmented reality, voice activated assistants, interactive mirrors). However younger consumers from 18-44 are more likely to trial and be influenced by such experiences.

Retail Strategy: If retailers are forward thinking and understand their audience (who already have a mobile device in hand), they can implement innovative digital experiences that enhance point of sale experiences for customers. 

Shopping Mall On Franchise Buyer


Consumer Behaviour: The two key purchase influences online are free shipping and transparency around delivery dates. If in store, a customer is more likely to check availability on their mobile than with staff. 

Retail Strategy: Be across the basics when predicting stock requirements. Sales forecasting is imperative to product buying. This also reinforces the benefit of screens in store to help customers check stock availability and pricing. 

Marketing Channels

Consumer Behaviour: Digital marketing remains a top priority for retailers. Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and LinkedIn are the top social channels where we see consumers interacting with brands. 30% of 18-24 year olds are starting to interact with brands on TikTok more frequently than other channels.

Retail Strategy: Retailers need a strong presence on the social channels their audience is spending time. There must be constant review of consumer interactions to capitalise on social consumption. 

Every business needs to transform and adapt consistently to stay ahead. Understanding trends and behaviours are imperative to responding to consumer needs. Agility is, no doubt, the best path to success. 

Download and read the Retail Doctor Group Whitepaper HERE