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The UK’s lockdown has caused a significant shift in how different age groups shop, presenting specialist food shops with a unique opportunity to expand their customer base, according to new research from IGD.
Specialist food shops such as butchers, fishmongers and grocers have grown in popularity with younger shoppers, while older age groups have relied more on online services.
IGD’s Shoppers of Our Time series found that nearly a quarter of 18 to 24 year olds said they had visited stores such as butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers in 2020, up from 20% in 2019. Meanwhile, shoppers over 55, who were the most frequent users of specialist stores before the lockdown, have decreased their usage from over a third (32%) to a quarter (25%), likely driven by social distancing concerns.
Dan Gillet, shopper insight manager at IGD, says: “Shopper behaviour has changed to an extent rarely ever seen. Some of these changes will present a unique opportunity for retailers across the board to retain shoppers they traditionally wouldn’t have – such as specialist stores, to keep younger shoppers visiting, and general or online retailers to retain the older shopper base they have attracted during this time.”
Online services were vital for older shoppers during lockdown, with more than half (55%) of those who shopped online saying that without the service they could not have got enough food and groceries during lockdown. Nearly two thirds of over-65s said the same.
The changing shopping landscape presents specialist shops with an opportunity to expand their customer base, as IGD’s findings suggest these changes are here to stay. The research found 78% of all age groups visiting specialist stories more frequently said they would continue to do so in the future. For delis and farm shops looking to understand what an uncertain future holds, these changes in shopping habits are the first piece of the puzzle.