Jun 11, 2020
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New rules could keep casual beauty browsers out of physical shops - NPD study

Jun 11, 2020

There's been a lot of talk about whether UK fashion consumers will be happy to fall in line with the fairly restrictive measures (such as off-limits changing rooms) when stores reopen. But there hasn't been much discussion of how they'll feel about restrictions on their ability to buy beauty products, until now.

Casual beauty product shoppers could be deterred by new rules when stores reopen

So NPD Group has conducted new research as part of its Covid-19  Consumer Sentiment Pulse Survey, and it said that 29% of UK consumers aren't prepared to join a queue in order to buy beauty products, while 35% aren't prepared to wait when testing a product. And as many as 26% wouldn't be prepared to join a queue in order to pay — which we assume means an abnormally long queue, as queueing up to pay was something we were all used to doing pre-pandemic.

In fact, very few are prepared for the waiting times that they may be faced with and only 6% said they would be prepared to wait 30 minutes or more to enter the store, test a product and pay. A wait of 10 minutes appears to be the preferred time, with 29% happy to wait this long to enter a store, 26% to test a product and 28% to pay.

The good news is that there’s certainly positive sentiment towards buying beauty products with 25% of consumers planning to buy prestige items to make-up for missed occasions like birthdays for friends and family, or to celebrate the end of lockdown.

But will they buy in shops? The survey also found that, aside from waiting times, other measures introduced to prevent a second wave of coronavirus could dampen browsing activity in physical shops. 

That’s bad news given that casual browsers often leave having made a purchase. But now, a third of consumers said they'll they'll be unlikely to go shopping without a specific purchase or product in mind.

Overall, it’s still unclear how many people will return to physical stores in the early stages. At the moment, 32% are saying they’d do so in a town or city centre and 22% would visit a retail park or shopping centre. Meanwhile, only 15% would shop in a small store. Shopping from home remains the most popular option and 43% said they would visit an online shopping site for their beauty essentials.

But it seems physical shops might win them over with exemplary hygiene measures in place. NPD said that “the in-store experience will need to be adapted, particularly the testing process for products because 82% of respondents said they were apprehensive about trying a beauty product in-store”. 

Some 59% of consumers expect stores to enforce social distancing during the shopping experience, while 54% believe increased hand sanitisation options in retail outlets are “a must”. As many as 48% believe that disposable testers are essential, and 46% expect counter staff to wear face coverings.

So consumers are clearly cautious from the hygiene and safety point of view, but are they also cautious financially? Well, the study showed that nearly 70% of consumers believe their financial situation will remain the same or improve in six months’ time. And the 18-34 age group feel particularly positive about their financial situations, despite concerns that younger people will suffer the most from unemployment linked to the pandemic. Optimism tends to tail off the older NPD’s survey respondents get.

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