As the climate crisis continues to threaten, consumers have begun seeking out more environmentally friendly options. New research reveals how UK retailers are responding to the shift in attitude.
Barclaycard Payments has revealed new research, showing that retailers are introducing more sustainable ways to buy and sell products and services. Such moves appear to come following pressure from consumers to be more environmentally conscious. Retailers also try to differentiate themselves from competitors as consumers look to reduce their spending as the cost of living continues to rise.
Barclaycard commissioned a survey, conducted by Opinium, of 400 retailers between 6 and 11 October 2022. Those surveyed comprised senior decision-makers across SME and corporate retailers across the UK.
The research appears to show that retailers are following consumers in taking the climate into account. Around seven in 10 (71 per cent) of the businesses surveyed now offer recycling, renting, reusing or reselling shopping options. It was also found that over a third (36 per cent) have introduced more sustainable ways to shop in the last 12 months. The results suggest that ‘green’ options have become much more of a priority for businesses in the last year.
A vast majority of decision-makers surveyed (89 per cent) plan to expand their existing options. This clearly highlights a growing demand for more affordable and environmentally friendly shopping alternatives. Consumer demand and pressure has had a significant effect on retailer priorities and the trend does not appear as though it will end soon.
Explaining the plans, around one-third of retailers (32 per cent) agreed that the rapid expansion of ‘Recommerce’ has been driven by the growth in environmental awareness. They also acknowledged the impact of the rising cost of living on consumer spending behaviour.
As consumers plan to further reduce spending in response to the cost of living crisis, retailers appear to recognise the importance of attracting the masses with environmental selling points. Almost four in 10 (37 per cent) say they have introduced more sustainable ways to shop. Retailers explained that they need to provide customers with more affordable options. Forty-four per cent of retailers said they had introduced more sustainable methods to reduce their own impact on the environment.
Cost of living Christmas crisis
Forty-two per cent of retailers believed that shoppers will opt to buy less expensive presents ahead of the Christmas period this year. Twenty-three per cent of retailers also said that they expected more second-hand gifts to be purchased this year.
Such methods could hit retailers hard as overall spending decreases and more money is channelled towards buying second-hand. Over a quarter (26 per cent) of retailers plan to offer ways to shop in response to this. These businesses could see themselves selling cheaper, second-hand product lines. Around 15 per cent of senior decision-makers surveyed also look to launch ‘gift swap’ services. These services will enable customers to exchange unwanted or unneeded presents received during the festive period.
Linda Weston, managing director at Barclaycard Payments, explained what changes to expect. She said: “The Recommerce economy continues to grow as retailers make sustainable ways to shop available to customers. Whether launching rental models to drive new streams of income, offering reselling services in-store or increasing second-hand or pre-loved product lines, our data shows how offering alternatives to buying new can increase a business’s customer base and revenue.
“The ability to launch new sustainable shopping options at pace, and under challenging circumstances, demonstrates how agile British retailers continue to be. It’s the businesses [that] diversify and adapt to the shifts in consumer demands that will be best placed to thrive, especially as the cost-of-living impacts consumer spending and the world becomes more environmentally conscious.”