More Australians willing to use credit to shop than pre-COVID

shopping online with credit card
Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

When local Coronavirus transmissions are up and restrictions are put into place, people begin to rethink how they buy things. As seen during 2020, COVID impacts Australian consumer habits.

The Australian Statistics Bureau (ABS) impacts of COVID-19 reports showed that by the end of 2020, there was a meaningful shift from in-person shopping to online:

  • One-third of people reported turning to online retailers more than they did before the pandemic
  • 40% felt somewhat uncomfortable shopping in a shopping centre or mall due to the risk of infection.
  • Total online sales experienced an average annual rise of almost 70% from March to October 2020.
  • When people are isolated to their homes, there is typically a shift to online shopping, leading to increased utilisation of credit cards and buy-now-pay-later services.

  • According to Roy Morgan data on Australian finance and shopping attitudes, in the 12 months to March 2021, 38.8% of Aussies agreed with the statement that ‘Credit enables me to buy the things I want’ – an increase of 12.4% points from a year ago pre-COVID-19.

    Additionally, the research shows that 72.4% of Australians report being aware of buy-now-pay-later services - an almost 100% increase over the last three years.

    Roy Morgan chief executive, Michele Levine suggests that new forms of ‘credit’ such as the ‘buy-now-pay-later’ services Zip and Afterpay are now driving a change in these attitudes alongside the financial challenges driven by the pandemic.

    “The increasing uptake of new digital payment services that defer immediate payment plays into the changing attitudes of shoppers,” she says.

    Until recently, Australians enjoyed post-COVID life - maskless, holidaying around the country, dining at packed restaurants - but this did not lead to a sudden reversion to old pre-pandemic shopping habits.

    “The changing attitudes of Australians is being driven not only by the forced restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, but also the increasing availability of new technology that enables frictionless banking and shopping without having to even leave one’s house,” said Levine.

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