North West shopping habits revealed

North West shopping habits revealed: convenience is at the forefront of all purchasing decisions
(Last Updated On: 25th September 2023)

The shopping habits of people living in the North West have been revealed thanks to a new research project from Chester-based retail digital specialists, Sherwen Studios.

The company commissioned research into what shoppers want to find from retailers as part of the development of their new whitepaper:

“Bricks and mortar vs. online retail. How to combine online and offline experiences to improve shopping for your customers.”

The research, which quizzed over 2000 shoppers from around the UK, has given some key insights that local retailers may be interested to discover.

In the North West, our local shoppers are a savvy bunch motivated by convenience and practicalities. And they are prepared to embrace change and technical innovation, as long as it helps to make the shopping experience quicker and easier.

Improve both online and offline offers

Local retailers could use these regional responses to improve their offerings to attract new customers – both online and offline. 

Matt Sherwen, owner of digital retail specialists Sherwen Studios said:

“Our research has shown how important it is that retailers listen carefully to what their customers are telling them. There are some clear geographical differences between shoppers across the UK, so if your retail business operates primarily in the North West, you could use these findings to make small improvements that could have a significant impact on your profit margins.”

Key findings from the research shows that our region’s shoppers have some distinct preferences when compared to the national averages.

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Customers in the North West prioritise shopping in-store rather than online

In the North West, we are spoilt for choice with regional shopping centres. The proximity of outlets such as the Trafford Centre could explain why those in the North West prefer shopping in person compared to shopping online. Almost four in ten Manchester shoppers (36%) told Sherwen that they have recently “browsed online, intending to complete the purchase in-store”. In comparison, this figure stands at just three in ten (32%) nationally. This could be attributed to the easy access of retail stores in the North West.

Convenience is important to our region’s shoppers. We want to be able to find what we are looking for quickly and easily, and we’ll quickly get frustrated by long queues and poor stock availability. Almost 50% of Manchester shoppers, and 40% of Liverpool shoppers say that long queues are their biggest bugbear when shopping in-store.

Online shopping is convenient, but Northern shoppers are easily put off

When it comes to online shopping, those in the North West are easily put off by expensive delivery costs and lengthy timescales – far more than elsewhere in the country.For example, in Liverpool, over 50% of shoppers would be prevented from buying online if there were high delivery charges compared to 40% elsewhere in the UK.

Reiterating our impatient nature, almost a third of shoppers (29%) list lengthy delivery timescales as a critical barrier to purchasing online compared to nearly a quarter (24%) nationally. 

Local retailers who sell their products in-store and online may be interested to know that in our region, many shoppers are continuing to find ways to seek inspiration online before completing their purchases in-store. In the North West, over 55% of all shoppers would be “much more likely, or somewhat more likely” to purchase if they could hold a product online and purchase in-store via a click and collect function. This compares to the national figure of 50%.

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Over a third (35%) of those living in the North West like shopping online because their purchases can be delivered directly to a chosen destination. And our shoppers are making a plea for local retailers to offer this as an option in-store. A whopping six in ten shoppers told Sherwen Studios that they would be “far more likely” or “somewhat more likely” to purchase if they could buy in person and choose to have that item delivered directly to a specified address. 

Shoppers in the North West are keen to embrace retail technology 

As an area, the North West is a growing hub for innovation and creativity. And our region’s shoppers want retailers to embrace technology and change – especially if it improves the overall shopping experience.

One of the easiest ways for local retailers to align their online and offline sales and take advantage of accessible technology is to make use of QR codes on product packaging. The simple adjustment could allow shoppers to search to see if an item is available in-store, add an item to a digital wish list or even discover further information about the item with minimal fuss.

Nationally, four in ten shoppers (42%) would actively embrace the use of QR codes in-stores, with customers understanding that their usage could improve their shopping trip. And as digital innovators, it’s no surprise that shoppers in our region are even more likely to welcome QR codes within retail outlets. Almost half of all shoppers (48%) in Manchester would be “much more likely” or “somewhat more likely” to purchase an item if QR codes became mainstream.

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For smaller, independent retailers, such a substantial increase in purchasing potential could make a huge impact on their profit, and that of the local economy.

Matt Sherwen shared:

“We are encouraging retailers in the North West to download a copy of our white paper so that they can gain better insights into what today’s shoppers are looking for. We’ve identified some practical ways that retailers can significantly improve their profit margins, and as a local company ourselves, we want to help our local retailers thrive. Some of the changes that we’ve discovered are quick and easy to implement, and they are just as relevant for independent stores as the big national brands. If any local business would like to know more specifically about what shoppers in the North West are looking for, then please get in touch.”

“Bricks and mortar stores vs. online retail. How to combine online and offline experiences to improve shopping for your customers” can be downloaded in full, direct from Sherwen.com/white-paper

What do shoppers in the North West of England want from their physical shopping experiences?

 North West regionSpecific citiesNational
ManchesterLiverpool
What do shoppers like most about shopping in-store?
Being able to take products home immediately51.82%46.11%58.02%50.22%
Being able to try on or test products40.91%32.22%46.91%38.92%
Convenience – everything is in one place38.64%35.00%38.27%36.49%
What are the main barriers that could prevent you from making a purchase in-store?
Long queues47.27%49.44%39.51%42.21%
Lack of stock39.09%38.33%39.51%33.50%
Location34.09%32.22%37.04%30.51%
What of the following have you ever done?
Browsed online with the intention of completing the purchase instore35.00% 36.11% 25.93% 32.21% 
Undergone the whole purchasing journey online but failed to complete the transaction due to the time-consuming checkout process26.82% 18.52% 27.78% 28.57% 
Sole purpose of going into shops, but knowing you will always look for the best cost online20.91% 22.78% 24.69% 21.65% 
 What, if anything, would you like to see from a hybrid model of online and offline shopping? 
Ability to check stock levels in store using their device35.00%33.33%33.33%33.30%
Ability to check current online prices / use voucher codes while in store33.64%32.22%30.86%31.51%
Opportunity to buy in-store and have delivered directly to a chosen address31.82%29.44%34.57%29.77%
Respondents would be much more likely or somewhat more likely to make a purchase in-store if retailers offered the following:
The ability to digitally see how an item looks in your home or how it looks on you?50.91%50.55%50.61%46.45%
QR codes on product tags allowing you to keep track of things you like47.27%48.34%41.98%42.56%
Opportunity to buy in-store and have delivered directly to a chosen address60%57.78%55.56%53.66%

What do shoppers in the North West of England want from their online shopping experiences?

 North West regionSpecific citiesNational
ManchesterLiverpool
What do shoppers like most about shopping online?
Convenience – can shop 24/7 at a time/place that suits you39.55%39.44%35.80%40.97%
Can deliver straight to your door / alternative destination34.09%34.44%29.63%35.49%
Pricing25.00%26.67%20.99%24.19%
What are the main barriers that could prevent you from making a purchase online?
Delivery costs39.55%35.56%51.85%40.42%
Uncertainty of the quality of the product26.36%26.67%22.22%31.46%
Timelines of delivery29.09%27.78%25.93%24.14%
Respondents would be much more likely or somewhat more likely to make a purchase online if retailers offered the following:
Ability to hold products online and purchase in-store55.91%56.11%55.56%50.77%
Ability to buy now, pay later (using tools such as Klarna, Clear Pay etc)41.37%41.12%39.50%37.09%
Singular checkout or delivery charge when purchasing from different brands owned by the same company55%53.89%58.02%50.57%
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