A Mastercard study on consumer spending* has revealed that 68% of SA consumers are shopping more online since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Essential items have seen the highest surge online, with most (81%) SA consumers saying they purchased data, and more than half saying they bought clothing (56%) and groceries (54%) online since the pandemic started.

According to the research, consumers have been more generous, with close to a quarter (23%) saying they have donated more recently to charity than pre-lockdown. Consumers are supporting their favourite local small businesses, with 63% of respondents saying that they are making a conscious effort to shop online at these stores.

With fewer opportunities to browse in-store or on-street, social media has emerged as the main platform for finding the most attractive products and offers, with 64% and 41% of respondents saying they had discovered new sellers through Facebook and Instagram respectively.

Price is a key factor for SA shoppers, with 78% saying this is the most important consideration that guides their online purchasing decision. In fact, 75% of typical in-store bargain hunters spend hours searching different sites to find the best deals, and 49% of self-confessed window-shoppers say they regularly create wish lists but don’t always buy.


The rise of virtual experiences 

While adapting to the “next normal”, people have been changing the way they consume entertainment and learn new skills.

Sixty-eight percent of SA consumers said they used the time during the pandemic as a positive learning experience. Two thirds (76%) of respondents learnt to bank online, while more than a half learnt to cook through online tutorials (55%), manage their health and get their medicines online (52%) or trained themselves in do-it-yourself (51%). About 39% of respondents enrolled in an online university or educational course, 29% learnt to dance and 28% learnt to do make-up.

As people spend more time at home, the demand for online entertainment has also surged, with 52% of respondents saying they have spent more money on virtual experiences than they did before the pandemic. Most consumers (88%) have participated in video calls for work or leisure, three quarters (75%) have watched TV or films through an online subscription service, three in five (60%) have watched comedy online and 47% have taken part in a virtual cooking class.

Consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of the associated risks of shopping online. Sixty four percent of respondents said that a secure checkout experience is integral to a good shopping experience, as are easy return policies (65%), and promotions and loyalty programmes (62%). 

“We have all been adjusting to a new way of living and are understandably shopping more online, though it’s not just for essentials such as data, clothing and groceries but for virtual experiences ranging from films to cooking classes,” says Suzanne Morel, Mastercard SA country manager.

“This trend appears to be here to stay as 71% of respondents say they will continue to shop online post-pandemic.” 

“Now more than ever people need access to the digital economy and all of us at Mastercard are constantly working to make the online shopping experience more inclusive, simple, seamless and secure for everyone, whether you’re shopping for essentials or experiences.”

Methodology of survey:

  • 6 x markets with 1,000 respondents each (SA, Nigeria, Kenya, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt);
  • 3 x markets with 500 respondents each (Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania); and
  • online survey.

For more information, visit www.mastercard.com.

This article was paid for by Mastercard.

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