Retail sales experience record decline as spending shifts online
The volume of retail sales fell by a record 18.1% year on year in April as lockdown impacted the sector.
Clothing was the worst hit with sales plummeting 50.2% but all sectors except alcohol (up 2.3%) and non-store retailing (up 18%) experienced a decline.
The proportion spent online soared to the highest on record in April 2020 at 30.7%, compared with 19.1% a year earlier. All store types reached record proportions of online spending last month.
Consumers still unwilling to spend despite lockdown easing
Monthly consumer confidence remained at -34 in May – the same level as April and 14 points below where it was in May 2019.
People’s perceptions of their personal financial situation over the next 12 months have improved from -14 last month to -9, while feelings about the general economic situation over the next 12 months have improved by two points. However, this is yet to translate into spending plans, with propensity to make a major purchase stuck at -47, a slight improvement on -52 the month before but way below the score of one in May 2019.
And despite having no plans to spend, consumers are not planning to save much either. While May’s score of 14 is an improvement on the five recorded in April, it is still below May 2019’s score of 16.
Lack of budget and resource biggest challenge in email marketing
Almost two-thirds (61%) of marketers cite ‘budget and resource’ as the biggest challenge when it comes to email marketing.
Other key challenges include ‘data’ on 42%, ‘leadership and strategy’ on 40%, and ‘content’, ‘internal processes’ and ‘technology’ on 25%.
There is an interconnection between the different challenges that organisations experience, revealing multiple correlations. For example, a lack of budget and resource seems to inhibit organisations that are already struggling with other challenges.
More than half (51%) of those who struggle with content (52%), internal processes (51%) and leadership and strategy-related challenges, also face issues with their budget/resources.
Consumers turning to touchless technologies
Consumers expect to increase their use of touchless technologies, with 77% saying they expect to use them more in order to avoid interactions that require physical contact. Even when the pandemic is over, 62% expect to increase their use.
This includes 59% of consumers who say they prefer using voice-based interfaces in public places such as shops and banks to avoid touch. And 66% say they prefer to use mobile apps at physical locations.
And while consumers are willing to put aside privacy concerns during the pandemic, these will regain precedence one the crisis subsides. Some 52% of people say they are happy to use facial recognition in stores now, but this drops to 39% when the pandemic is over.
Consumers cautious about use of their data for advertising
Consumers are most receptive to behavioural and contextual advertising, with 35% preferring ads targeted by their purchase history and 34% their browsing history. Some 33% are receptive to targeted ads that are contextually relevant to the site they are browsing.
Targeting based on demographic data was the least preferred method, with just 19% happy with ads targeted by life stage and 15% by job.
Consumers are also clear about which platforms they are happy to share their personal data with for a more relevant ad experience. Almost three-fifths (56%) of consumers are comfortable sharing information in shopping environments, and more than two-fifths (43%) are happy for social media sites to have access to this data.
However, for audio streaming and gaming just under a third of consumers are willing to share personal information (30% and 28% respectively).
Source: Integral Ad Science