May 4, 2020
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Under 35s happy to return to normal soon, says GlobalData

May 4, 2020

Some fashion retailers wondering how their businesses will recover after the coronavirus crisis eases might be cheered up by a study that shows more younger consumers expect to get back to normal consumption behaviour quite quickly than older shoppers.

Young consumers seem happier to 'get back to normal' faster than those aged over 35

GlobalData said a survey of 2,000 nationally representative UK consumers conducted in early April shows younger consumers feel more optimistic than those over 35. And they’re likely to be more willing to embrace the lockdown loosening when it happens. 

Just under 45% of those aged under 35 said that they’re ready for their lives to return to normal by the end of June, if not earlier. And while a significant number of over 35s also see late June as a key target, a much larger number of the young are also looking at late May as a date at which some sense of normality will be back.

That said, there are still plenty of young consumers who are likely to take their time before deciding that it's safe to venture out and to go into shops.

Sofie Willmott, Lead Retail Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Despite the majority of UK consumers remaining concerned about Covid-19, under 35s are slightly more optimistic, likely to be due to the lower death rates amongst the young”.

That can be seen less from the numbers who are optimistic and more from those who are extremely concerned about Covid-19. Some 42% of under-35s are extremely concerned about coronavirus in comparison to 53.7% of over-35s. 

“Those over 35 will feel more cautious about returning to non-essential retail stores once they are able to re-open and retailers will need to clearly communicate the safety measures they have in place to ease their worries,” Willmott added.

Retailers whose customers are primarily over 35 should prepare for online sales to remain inflated and should gear up warehouses to be able to cope with the ongoing demand, GlobalData said. It added that they should also try to improve delivery times that have been slowed down by social distancing measures being introduced.

It all means the young will be the first consumers to venture into non-essential shops, which Willmott said would benefit a range of retailers including a company such as Primark that has been unable to capitalise on the huge interest in online shopping. Others should benefit from pent-up demand for newness and also shopping for outdoor activities and social events (albeit socially distanced events).

There’s a small but significant group of consumers of all ages who feel that things won't get back to normal until the end of the year and who would be prepared to stay home for a longer period, with those consumers proving fairly resistant to anything that retailers might try to lure them into shops. However, there are fewer younger consumers who feel this way (10.2%) compared to larger numbers of those aged over 35 (15.7%). 

And while many older consumers are likely to ignore government advice to stay indoors beyond the point at which the rest of society is allowed out, the study also showed plenty of them prepared to stick by official guidance that they should stay indoors for 12 weeks. The study also showed that some of them are unconvinced that 12 weeks would be long enough with 20% prepared to avoid going out for much longer.

This could be a problem for retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Peacocks, which count a huge number of older shoppers among their client bases.

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