According to recent studies by the Association of Swiss Sports Retailers (ASMAS), based on credit card data from Worldline, along with the latest data from Mastercard, the outlook for brick-and-mortar retailers is moderately optimistic, albeit very mixed across the EU. In general, a slow return of the buying spirit is expected, which will also have a positive impact on offline retailing, especially in the non-food segment.
Globally, Mastercard reported a growth in the share of online retail from 14.3 percent to 20 percent. According to Mastercard’s latest Recovery Insights Report, this amounted to an additional $900 billion being spent in retail online around the world in 2020. While online grocery sales have grown significantly in all markets observed, growth in non-food has not been quite as erratic. Despite the impressive overall growth, Mastercard believes that only 20 to 30 percent of this shift will permanently benefit e-commerce. Grocery shoppers, in particular, are likely to find the convenience of shopping with the click of a mouse so enjoyable that they will retain the habit, while product areas that thrive more on the sensory experience of analog shopping, including the purchase of consumer goods such as sporting goods, are likely to return to physical retail. The first week of reopening in Switzerland also proved this. Even though there was no such rush as retailers experienced after the end of the first lockdown, customers do not seem to shift their purchases to the online sector without an alternative, but prefer to engage in local, ambient retailing rather than shopping tourism. Social and sensory aspects of shopping remain important to customers, ASMAS concludes.
This is also reinforced by data from Eurostat. The European Union’s statistical office saw a 12.1 percent increase in real per capita consumption in the euro area by the end of 2020, but also a wide variety of shopping preferences within the countries surveyed, closely linked to the Corona protection measures on-site that affected local retail stores. Six member countries reported a decline in household investment rates, two countries are stable and five see an increase in investment. Still, a renaissance of brick-and-mortar retail after the end of the Covid crisis would not be enough to compensate for the losses of last winter alone. The German trade magazine TextilWirtschaft surveyed a relevant number of classic, stationary multi-brand fashion retailers in a weekly panel and reported sales declines of over 70 percent year-on-year in some cases. The new figures from Eurostat for the entire EU are expected on April 9. But they, too, will presumably paint a similarly fragmented picture as those of the past quarter due to the different situations in the countries.
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