The Swiss no longer have time for shopping - GDI publishes new retail study
Rüschlikon, 1 December 2023. The time pressure under which consumers increasingly find themselves could plunge retailing into a fundamental crisis. Saving time is more important to customers than saving money. This is the finding of the new Swiss retail survey by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI) entitled "Going shopping is dead - How to restore meaning and fun in retail". The English version of the study will be published on 1 December. The representative survey found that the Swiss no longer consider shopping an enjoyable leisure activity. Strolling is out. The retail experience must be made faster, closer, nicer and more meaningful in order to counter the trend.
The retail sector has been going through turbulent times for years. After supply-chain bottlenecks, rising raw-material prices and a shortage of skilled workers, retailers are now facing another major challenge: time. And this is becoming a critical resource when making consumer decisions. Thirty percent of all working-age Swiss people are either often or almost always under time pressure. Consumers want to spend less and less of their precious time shopping. The findings of the GDI's new retail study "Going shopping is dead - How to restore meaning and fun in retail" suggest that attitudes to shopping have changed. It is no longer seen as a pleasant leisure activity, but a "tedious chore".
Shopping as unpopular as housework
According to the results of the GDI study, most people neither enjoy shopping nor find it meaningful. Shopping is one of the least popular leisure activities. It is less popular than paid work and almost as unpopular as housework. A little over half of those polled (50.5%) prefer to spend their time doing something other than shopping. Approximately one in four of them (26.4%) would rather not spend any time at all shopping.
Saving time is more important than saving money
The fact that time pressure influences shopping behaviour is clearly illustrated by the time spent shopping. Over the past 25 years, the average time that the Swiss spend shopping (in minutes per week) has fallen continuously, from 139 minutes in 1997 to 120 minutes in 2020 (according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office) and 115 minutes in 2023 (GDI). Overall, this represents a drop of about 17%. The Swiss currently spend only about 16.4 minutes a day shopping. Weekly shopping trips are likely to be even shorter in the future. Almost a fifth of respondents to the GDI survey (19.9%) want to cut their shopping time even further in the next 12 months. For 85% of those polled, the most important thing is to get their shopping done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Only about 3% wish they had more time for shopping, while just 15% still set out to browse through shops.
Four shopper types
Not every respondent found grocery shopping tedious or unpleasant. Indeed, there are sometimes major differences between genders or age groups. The survey divides the different attitudes to shopping into four types of shopper: aimless browsers, strictly needs-oriented shoppers, open-minded optimisers and efficient identity shoppers. Nevertheless, the last three shopper types have one thing in common: the need to shop quickly and efficiently.
Men and women shop just as much
The GDI survey also found that the cliché "Women shop more often than men" is outdated. Today, women and men spend more or less the same amount of time shopping. One reason for this is that men are taking on more and more household chores every year. Across all income brackets and family constellations, 41% of households share the responsibility for shopping. Indeed, shopping is by far the household chore that couples most often do together.
What's more, today's women enjoy shopping much less, while men like it a bit more. About as many men (18.9%) as women (19.3%) say that shopping fun has increased somewhat or greatly. However, more women (28.8%) now enjoy shopping less than they did five years ago, compared with just 16.2% of men.
Four ways out of the plunge in fun and meaning
To make shopping more attractive for customers again, GDI researchers believe that retailing must stick to the four Ps: it must become faster (promptness), closer (proximity), nicer (pleasure) and more meaningful (purpose). Retailers must give people back their time and become time shapers for their customers. Companies that want to be financially successful today must enable their customers to shop quickly and efficiently and ensure that the time spent shopping is perceived as pleasant and meaningful.
Within the framework of the study, two representative consumer surveys were conducted in July and August 2023 among a total of 1500 German-speaking Swiss citizens. The first, shorter survey primarily examined the importance of shopping compared to other activities. The second, comprehensive consumer survey looked at factors such as time pressure and life satisfaction, changes in the enjoyment and importance of shopping, the duration of weekly shopping trips and shopping motives. Numerous international studies, scientific articles and databases were also evaluated. This both serves to validate the results and shows that the identified trends are mirrored beyond Switzerland's borders.
The complete study "Going shopping is dead - How to restore meaning and fun in retail" is now available to download free of charge at gdi.ch/retail-study .
Head of Marketing and Communications
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute
Phone +41 79 542 00 30