Person on computer holding credit card

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, UK consumers were already regularly shopping online. Many UK online retailers offer convenient, fast, and cheap domestic deliveries. But after 2 years of COVID shipping delays and uncertainty, we polled British shoppers to better understand their current habits and preferences. 

Shopping Behaviors and Fears

65% of UK citizens say they currently shop online more frequently than they did even a year ago. 41% of those surveyed say that they now prefer online shopping instead of going to in-person shops. Another 30% enjoy shopping online equally to shopping in-person. One reason for this may be pricing. 57% of UK shoppers believe they get better deals online than they do in brick and mortar stores.

But what are online consumers shopping for? 66% of UK online shoppers are regularly logging on to purchase gifts. 54% said they regularly buy women’s fashion as well as groceries/household basics. 48% regularly shop for home furnishing and furniture. 

But while consumers may feel confident about prices, they are concerned about quality. 55% of UK shoppers say they are worried about the quality of goods or not getting the actual item they’ve ordered. When using the PureSpectrum Insights Platform to filter by age, Gen Z (18-24) consumers are much more likely to be worried about poor quality inventory than older generations. 

Fitness Apps

Source: PureSpectrum Insights Platform

Conversely, when asked about their fear of fraud online, it seems older shoppers are more fearful.  40% of all UK respondents said they are concerned about fraud online however only 23% of GenZ shoppers said they shared this sentiment. 

Online Retailer Preferences 

No matter what generation they belong to, it appears that UK shoppers patronize Amazon UK much more frequently than other online retailers. Utilizing the PureSpectrum Insights Platform’s word cloud feature, it’s clear that Amazon was the most common response to our open-ended inquiry. 


Word cloud showing Amazon as primary online retailer

Source: PureSpectrum Insights Platform

When given an existing list of retailers to choose from 84% of UK respondents say they regularly shop Amazon. And about 40% of shoppers reported regularly logging onto eBay UK, Tesco, and Argos.

Shipping and Returns 

So why do consumers choose one online retailer over another? It seems that return processes may be more important than shipping costs to UK buyers. 45% of our respondents said they would shop with an online retailer that didn’t offer free shipping. However, only 24% would shop with a retailer that didn’t offer free returns. This may be because when returning an item, a huge majority of British consumers prefer not to return goods in person. 77% of UK shoppers say they favor returning goods via post whenever possible.

And what about all that packaging? The good news is that 79% of UK citizens report that they regularly recycle shipping materials. Only 5% of respondents answered that they never recycle boxes from online orders. 

Looking ahead, it seems as though many UK consumers are happy to remain in a hybrid of online and in-store shopping. Consumers have adapted to online spending. It’s now up to more regional retailers to make sure their virtual shopping experiences can rival those of the global players. 

Curious to dive deeper into this data set, including more detailed consumer crosstabs? Or are you interested in learning more about running your own survey or tracker?

About PureSpectrum 

PureSpectrum offers a complete end-to-end market research and insights platform, helping insights professionals make decisions more efficiently, and faster than ever before. Awarded MR Supplier of the Year at the 2021 Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards, PureSpectrum is recognized for industry-leading data quality. PureSpectrum developed the respondent-level scoring system,  PureScore™, and believes their continued success stems from their talent density and dedication to simplicity and quality.

In the few years since its inception, PureSpectrum has been named one of the Fastest Growing Companies in North America on Deloitte’s Fast 500 since 2020, and ranked for three years in a row on the GRIT Top 50 Most Innovative List and the Inc. 5000 lists.