The overwhelming majority (97%) of Australian consumers who shifted to shopping locally during the pandemic, are seeking to maintain this behaviour, according to a new study by customer engagement software provider, Freshworks.

Further, more than three quarters (78%) of respondents will continue to spend money they normally wouldn’t to support workers and struggling businesses.

Mirroring how Australians felt smaller businesses responded to the pandemic, 44% believe small businesses got better at customer service compared to 13% saying worse and 43% saying no change, as they tried to offer more personal service and the option of delivery services.

Despite the shift towards ecommerce, Australians may never go completely “all-in” with online shopping. Although 43% will now continue to interact with brands digitally, compared to the global average of 48%, less than one-third (32%) of Australians moved to shopping online during the pandemic. Instead, Australians want to return to shopping in person, so they can see products in real-life (38%) and maintain human connections (33%).

Freshworks Australia general manager, Sreelesh Pillai said Australians have always sought to support local, however, the pandemic has further entrenched this behaviour.

“This stands alongside an ‘all in this together’ attitude, where we’re seeing consumers support businesses that have perhaps struggled in the past 12 months. As expected, online shopping has become more popular but not to the extent that we’ve witnessed in other markets. Again, this highlights the Australian preference for supporting smaller, local retailers.

“For retailers looking to win the hearts and minds of Australian consumers, the message is simple: offer an experience that is personalised and meets their needs while treating your own staff well. Australians want to do business with brands that support the local community and are inherently seen as decent.”