New shopper research has revealed that people’s focus on mental health and wellbeing during consecutive lockdowns has led to an increase in the number buying gifts for others or just as treats for themselves.

The study, conducted by Bridgethorne Research, reveals 42% of respondents buying gifts for themselves or for others if they think the product will enhance their own or somebody else’s sense of wellbeing. 39% said they have been buying products a treats because they are unable to go out and a third said they have done so as a reward for themselves or others.

However, changing shopper behaviour, with a lot of shopper traffic shifting online and fewer physical store visits, could also be making it harder for brands to catch a shopper’s eye. The Bridgethorne study found that 49% of us are visiting physical stores less often, which is reducing in-store opportunities for the impulse purchase of gifts.

In terms of broader shopper behaviour, 40% of respondents said that their shopping habits would remain the same as they are currently; 35% said they would go back to their previous pre-Covid shopping habits, whilst just 16% said they hadn’t changed their shopping habits at all and had no intention of doing so. The medium to long-term legacy is likely to be one of an accelerated expansion of online shopping.

“These results are showing that engaging shoppers on their shopping journeys – wherever those journeys are taking place – has never been so important and that there are fewer physical touchpoint opportunities – so optimising the digital experience is also key,” said Andy Grout, Head of Research at Bridgethorne.

“We are also starting to see what some of the long-term legacies from our behaviour in lockdown are likely to be. For example, we expect the emphasis on mental health and wellbeing to be sustained beyond Covid. Also, with shoppers becoming more confident with technology, brands will need to continue optimising their digital presence. Remote working has also placed new importance on the home environment and being able to recreate previous out-of-home experiences at home. Economically, beyond the pandemic, a likely recession projected to last until 2023 will place further pressure on prices and could lead to further changes in shopper behaviour. Continuing to monitor those changes will be key for brands and retailers alike.”