Retail Doctor Group has teamed up with POS software and e-commerce provider, Lightspeed to understand how COVID-19 is impacting consumer behaviour and spending patterns.

The data is designed to assist retailers predict how customers will react, which customers are most affected and which verticals are most impacted.

The data found that 53% of Australian consumers reported no affect to their income during this period. Of those affected, most of them are younger consumers aged between 18 and 35 years old and females.

“Retailers who have key customer demographics in these areas may notice the change in behaviour and reduced spend during this period. However, by understanding the drivers for these consumer profiles we can tailor communications, offers and products to support these groups,” Retail Doctor head of insights, Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis said.

“Keeping close to your customers during this period by being supporting, informative and addressing their needs will allow for a strong connection and loyal customers. Customers respond to crisis in different ways and that’s why it is important to connect with your customers on an emotional level.”

The data also found that metro areas are more affected than regional with 73% of regional consumers stating that their income has not been affected or has increased.

When it comes to how spending habits have been affected, groceries, both pantry and fresh, have been the clear winner during this crisis with increased spend in this category. Conversely, footwear and clothing accessories will suffer the most with an expected 55% and 54% fall in spending respectively, just behind entertainment (48%) and electronics (48%).

“By understanding what categories consumers are considering spending in can be utilised to determine what mix of products and services you can offer,” Lloyd-Wallis said.

Due to social distancing, more customers are becoming digital-savvy and have higher expectations for how they interact with retailers. “A review is necessary to understand what your customers are expecting versus what you are delivering to them on their journey with you. Consumers are now looking for the ability to purchase online so revisit your current path to purchase and how you need to change your omni-channel strategy to deliver to expectations.”