How Rising Cost-of-Living is Changing Consumer Shopping Habits

From groceries and home furnishings to clothes and transportation, just about everything costs more in today’s economy. It should come as no surprise, then, that the rising cost of living is significantly impacting how consumers shop daily.

In May 2024, Forter commissioned a survey with Talker Research of 2,000 consumers in the U.S. to learn more about their online shopping habits. Of those surveyed, over 61% said that higher prices are leading them to change how and where they shop online, signaling a need for online brands to evolve with their customers.

Finding Ways to Offset Costs

With the increases in cost of living, 55% of consumers noted that they shop “less often,” with 22% stating they only buy products when the retailer offers a discount or coupons. 

But consumers aren’t just looking for good deals—some note that they are taking further steps to offset the increased costs. Nearly half (48%) of respondents said they have considered manipulating how they shop online, including abusing retailers’ policies to cut costs and corners. Some examples of this policy abuse include combining or stacking coupons, reselling highly sought-after products, and opening multiple accounts to receive gifts or promotions.

Attracted by Perks and Options

The survey also found that the perks and options brands offer are meaningful levers to drive customer loyalty and lifetime value. The majority of respondents (92%) said that they would be enticed to regularly shop online with a retailer if that retailer offered benefits like free shipping (63%), free and easy returns (34%), loyalty programs (33%), and gifts (24%). 

Consumers are also looking for brands to offer varied and emerging payment options, including digital wallets (20%), Buy Now Pay Later/cryptocurrency (15%) and store credit cards (10%). Of those who have used BNPL and store credit cards, the majority are doing so to manage their costs (56%) and to collect points/discounts (32%), respectively.  

Consumers Expect More from Retailers

In light of higher prices, retailers must perfect the full customer experience, all while balancing the challenges of policy abuse. However, there’s still work to be done, with 33% of respondents having abandoned their cart due to frustration with their online shopping experience.  

“The cost-of-living increase means that consumers are fundamentally altering their online shopping habits,” said Doriel Abrahams, principal technologist, Forter. “Brands that want to maintain customer loyalty and value in this macro environment must evolve, too. From the simple – but important – perks to the full checkout experience, consumers want more and better from their favorite brands.”

To see the full infographic and learn more about how the cost-of-living increases impact consumers and their online shopping habits, click here.

 


Survey Methodology

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Forter between May 14 and May 20, 2024. It was conducted by market research company Talker Research, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society (MRS) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).