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The Desertification of Main Street Retail: Where Has Everybody Gone?

An Ipsos Global Advisor Study of Shopping Behaviours

Sydney, November 16, 2017 — The move towards online shopping coincides with a decline in the presence and use of physical retail establishments, according to a study exploring the changes in shopping habits and environments conducted by Ipsos Global Advisor in 24 countries around the world.

Consumers report seeing fewer traditional “Main Street” businesses, while they are increasingly resorting to digital and convenience-focused alternatives, and chain or franchise stores. In Australia, the types of stores that are most markedly vanishing from local shopping areas are: bookstores (reportedly seen less often by 48% of Australians compared to 39% globally), newsstands (41%) and any type of independently-owned and operated (non-chain) stores (35%).

In contrast, Australians are reporting seeing more or just as many drugstores and pharmacies (75% saw more or just as many), eat-in restaurants (69%), cafes (67%, with more increase noticed in Australia than globally), and stores or restaurants selling readily prepared or takeaway food (66%).

Although the reported level of takeaway food restaurants is on the rise, only 11% of Australians are eating takeaway food more often, compared to 18% of people across the world. In fact, in Australia 35% of people are buying takeaway food less often than three years ago (compared to 29% globally).

Further, an increase was also seen in the number of gyms/fitness clubs in Australia by 26% of people, compared to 22% globally. There are also more vacant stores, with 30% of Australians seeing more of these (25% globally).

While consumers are shopping more in general than three years ago (both instore and online), a greater percentage of Australians are shopping more online (on average, 16% are shopping more online across different products and services, and 12% are shopping more instore). And the upwards trend in shopping online for certain products is having an impact on main streets:

  • 38% of Australians are buying books instore less often, and 17% are now buying books online more often than three years ago, leading to these stores being seen less often by nearly half of Australians
  • Even more extreme is the change in banking habits, with 55% of Australians banking in person less often and 46% banking online more than three years ago.
  • Relying more than ever on website and web-based advice, 36% of Australians are making travel reservations in person less often and 26% are making these online more often.

The self-reported personal care and social activities the most on the rise are food-related: 17% of Australians are both eating at restaurants and going to cafes more often than three years ago. There has been a relative decline in Australians going to the movies and going to bars/pubs, with 11% saying they visit these places more often, compared to the percentage of people visiting less often: 40% and 36% respectively.


About the Study

These are the findings of a Global Advisor survey on shopping behaviours. In total 19,000+ interviews were conducted between September 22 – October 6, 2017 among adults aged 18-64 in the United States and Canada, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries.

The survey was conducted in 27 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries included Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Hungary, Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States.

Between 500 and 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel. The sample was 1000+ in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United States. In all other countries the sample was 500+. The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on Ipsos’ use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.

Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don’t knows or not stated responses. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

About AMSRS 468 Articles
The Australian Market & Social Research Society Limited (AMSRS) is a not-for-profit professional membership body of over 2,000 market and social research professionals who are dedicated to increasing the standard and understanding of market and social research in Australia. The Society assists members to develop their careers by heightening professional standards and ethics in the fields of market and social research.

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