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emerchantpay uncovers £74.6bn opportunity for online retailers

 Research finds consumer shopping behaviour post-pandemic offers £74.6bn opportunity for online retailers      


  • High street retailers urged to consider their online and in-store strategies following new research into consumer shopping behaviours that found footfall on UK high streets could shrink by a quarter post-pandemic.
  • Shift away from high street opens up £74.6bn potential revenue opportunity for online retailers.
  • COVID has significantly accelerated the migration of over 40s to online shopping.
  • For those returning to the high street cash is no longer king, especially in Gen Z shoppers, the most likely to return.


Leading global payment service provider, emerchantpay, publishes the first instalment of its New World, One Market Report, a new research study examining consumer behaviour when it comes to post-pandemic payment preferences. Chapter One of the study reveals that the national shift to digital payments, which has been dramatically accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is here to stay.


Despite British high-streets reopening on the 12th April, it appears that the pandemic has caused irreversible change when it comes to consumer behaviour. Our own research found that one in five consumers said they’d be inclined to shop less on the high street now versus before the pandemic. This equates to £74.6bn potential revenue opportunity for online retailers. Equally, retailers that don’t seize the chance to go online could be missing out on a significant consumer audience.  


This move away from the high street is particularly apparent in older shoppers, with over a quarter (27%) of Gen X (42-57 year olds) and Baby Boomers (58-76 year olds) less likely to shop on the high street post-pandemic, in addition to 25% of The Silent Generation (77+ year olds).


For those that do choose to shop in-store, payment habits have changed. A quarter (25%) said they will use their mobile phone more to make payments in store now versus before the pandemic. Responding to this demand, retailers need to adopt a multi-channel strategy that offers their consumers flexibility by supporting payments and purchases across multiple platforms.


Diminishing footfall on UK high streets is nothing new, but the sudden acceleration of online shopping across all demographics presents challenges for retailers that do not have a unified commerce strategy or the correct payment infrastructure in place. The pandemic has pushed digital technology into the mainstream, and merchants should look to take advantage of this by optimising products, services and payment processes for eCommerce, as well as ensuring in-store infrastructure caters to today’s payment preferences. Increasingly, seamless real-time unified payment solutions must be prioritised in a retailer’s overall commerce strategy.


Jonas Reynisson, emerchantpay’s Founder and CEO comments: “This research comes at a pivotal moment for British retailers, many of whom are having to rethink their entire business model to survive in the post pandemic world. By sharing tangible insights into the behaviour and preferences of today’s consumer, we can support retail businesses as they strengthen their payment strategies in the months ahead. While the findings may vary by generation, what’s clear is that a unified commerce strategy is more important now than it has ever been.”


Further chapters of the research will be published in increments over the upcoming weeks.

About emerchantpay

emerchantpay is a leading global payment service provider for online, mobile, in-store and over the phone payments. Its global payments solution is available through a simple integration, offering a wealth of features, including global acquiring, alternative payment methods, advanced fraud management and performance optimisation. It works with businesses of all sizes across various industries to create bespoke solutions and strategies that help them increase their payment systems’ efficiency and profitability. With cutting-edge technology and a unique customer-centric approach, emerchantpay empowers businesses to design seamless and engaging payment experiences for their consumers.



Research methodology and key definitions

emerchantpay commissioned Sapio Research to interview 2,003 UK consumers about their shopping and payments habits and how they have been affected by the pandemic. Respondents were spread across the UK and spanned a range of different ages. All responses were collected in March 2021.


The research refers to different generations, defined as:

  • Gen Z: 18-26 year olds
  • Millennials: 27-41 year olds
  • Gen X: 42-57 year olds
  • Baby Boomers: 58-76 year olds
  • The Silent Generation: 77+ year olds