Virus-fuelled online shopping surge

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the shopping habits of Australian consumers, with one in five abandoning cash completely and 15 per cent buying online for the first time.

More than 1000 individuals and 551 businesses were surveyed by online payments systems giant PayPal Australia during the first week of June, and while nearly half of households reported no change to their income, spending was down overall.

“Large parts of our social, cultural, working and economic lives remain restricted by social distancing requirements, and for many of us that means corresponding restrictions on our incomes, our spending, or both,” the company’s consumer behaviour expert Danielle Grant said.

The survey results suggested the upward trend of online shopping would extend beyond the crisis, with 38 per cent saying they will continue buying more from websites after the pandemic is over.

But even online businesses weren’t immune to the COVID-19 economic shock, with 14 per cent temporarily shutting down, although the rate was more than double that for bricks and mortar businesses.

A whopping 57 per cent of respondents said they believed they would stop using cash by the end of this decade, a trend unsurprisingly being led by younger generations.

For hygiene reasons, one in 10 said they were uncertain if they would ever feel comfortable handling cash again.

Another notable finding was 38 per cent of respondents reported consciously buying from local businesses to help them recover from the pandemic.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics report earlier this week showed online sales in June comprised 9.7 per cent of total retail turnover compared with 6.1 per cent for the same month last year.

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