All Australians have experienced some financial impact during the COVID-19 pandemic, and most have responded by significantly changing their approach to shopping and discretionary spending.

Research recently released by Honey, PayPal’s deal-finding shopping tool, shows the pandemic has been a major catalyst for bargain hunting, with most Aussies seeking to reduce expenditure by increasing their search effort. This behavioural shift has created a clear opportunity for retailers to attract more customers and increase sales by offering the bargains Aussies are looking for.

Maintain a steady stream of enticing deals

Since the pandemic emerged in 2020, more than 7 in 10 (71%) Aussies say they shop with retailers that they know will offer discounts. In an effort to save money we’ve become stricter on ourselves, with two thirds (66%) of our nation’s shoppers saying that since the pandemic they’ve made less impulse purchases and have cut back on non-essential items and treats unless there is a sale, discount or coupon available.

Even as life in Australia returns to normal, maintaining a constant cycle of deals will help retailers attract and hold the attention of their customer base and grow sales throughout the year. The research from Honey shows that women in particular are more likely to care (66% vs 59% of men) about finding a bargain when shopping, meaning retailers that are popular with women stand to benefit most from consistent sales offerings.

Make your sales and deals easy to find

Retailers need only to look at the time Australians are spending sale searching to understand how serious Australians are about saving. The average Australian adult now spends about 1 hour (63 minutes) searching for bargains online each week before committing to a purchase.

This equates to approximately 20 million bargain-hunting hours spent across the nation weekly. But some demographics are more likely than others to spend time searching for a bargain. Australians aged 35-49 years old spend 30% more time than the national average finding deals, totalling around 85 minutes per week. Parents also spend more time than average, at around 77 minutes per week hunting for bargains online.

To ensure they can benefit from this new national past time, retailers should promote their sales, ensuring they can be easily found, whether consumers are looking for a particular item or simply trawling for discounts. During the pandemic, more Australians were browsing and making purchases through social platforms, making these effective channels for promoting deals and attracting new customers.

However, different social platforms are better suited to certain types of content, and are more engaging for certain demographics, so it’s important to consider your target audience and choose the approach that makes most sense for your business and customer base. Retailers should also familiarise themselves with the various user-friendly deal-finding tools, such as Honey, which takes just seconds to search the internet for discount codes and automatically apply any it finds to a shopper’s cart at checkout. If a retailer’s website is offering a discount, it can be found and shared by Honey’s global network of 17 million members, making the retailer a preferred option to shop with.

Deliver a seamless shopping experience

After spending time hunting for a bargain, if the shopping experience isn’t seamless, there’s a risk the consumer may abandon their shopping cart all together. More Australians than ever have begun shopping online since the pandemic, meaning retailers need to be online and user-friendly, particularly for customers relatively new to eCommerce.

Mobile optimisation is especially important for retailers targeting youth markets, where the majority do their online sale shopping via smart phones and tablets. Retailers should remove any roadblocks that might slow down or irritate the consumer, like too many clicks to the checkout, or excessive e-forms to complete for first-time visitors to the site. Think of the bug bears you have when shopping online and eliminate them from the customer journey on your site. If the experience is hassle-free, customers are more likely to make a purchase and return to make more in the future.

Despite Australia bouncing back from the pandemic better than most countries, Australians are still being financially cautious, avoiding splurges on big ticket items and consciously saving where they can. Australians have emerged from the pandemic as smarter savers, and retailers will be more appealing to savvy shoppers by adapting to this shift in consumer behaviour.

Jess Rix is consumer shopping expert for PayPal Australia.