“Living well is the best revenge” - George Herbert
After spending weeks cooped up at home, will consumers swarm outside to spend some cash? Consumers are looking for opportunities to make up for their time. Shopping is always known as retail therapy, but post-pandemic it seems that consumers are taking revenge against Covid. They have started spending on things which they didn’t get to spend on before.
Neil Saunders, MD, and Retail Analyst at GlobalData Retail, defined the same as ‘revenge shopping’ which means “that once the pandemic is over, people will go out and spend loads as revenge for being restricted for so long”.
The term indicates ‘spending excessively after a period when one has had limited opportunities to spend’. It is either a celebration of being free or an activity to overcome the frustration. Social media has also seen a huge trend of #revengeshopping and #revengespending. So, what exactly this phenomenon is, a relief to mental health or reframing of shopping habits.
Fashion and Shopping
During pandemic sweatpants and athleisure is the only style followed by maximum people and wearing formals looks like a dream. But fashion retailers were somehow able to convince women shoppers, to get ready above waist even for Zoom calls too.
As the pandemic drives all physically apart, technology has brought them together and celebration of birthdays, anniversaries and even kitty parties are happening online. Women consumers and millennials were ‘planning to shop more’ and refreshing their wardrobesas they want to enjoy being back to normal and spend the savings made during the lockdown.
Revenge shopping brought relief to customer’s pain and anxiety and an opportunity for businesses to boost their sales. There is an increase in the purchase of kids' toys, learning games, and entertainment subscriptions, while the apparel and fashion industry has seen a rise in day dresses, jewellery and cosmetics. But this U-turn of the Coronavirus will not show such behaviour again as there is an increase in the profile of online customers. Customers are much equipped with this new style of living; as it is no more a shock for them.
Is India Spending?
There were long queues reported outside the luxury stores of many countries but the Indian scenario was different.
Sunil Sethi, Chairman, Fashion Design Council mentioned, “If I think from the head and the heart, my heart says that there should be revenge buying in India and I know fashion world would welcome this move. But the head says that this will not be the case for India because we as Indians in times of crisis move away from what we would call wasteful expenditure.”
The general trend expected after the lockdown was ‘revenge buying’, but due to loss in job and salary cuts, the same may not sustain for a longer time in India.
And, Nikhil Prasad Ojha, Bain & Company, mentioned that “most shoppers will stick to what they need to buy and hold the urge to splurge for more predictable times”.
Though every consumer is not shopping but coming out of their place and spending cash is an indication of new normal. Retailers should understand the trend of revenge shopping, it's more towards ‘hedonic things’ rather than ‘utilitarian things’. Revenge shopping has been seen initially but it’s not going to last for a longer time.
Where Will It All End?
As the second wave is out there, with the global economy majorly impacted, the priority in everyone’s mind is cutting down on extravagant expenses. Staying at home, made consumers realize to watch their closet and do careful shopping. Shopping will be done very wisely ensuring the need, quality, and price as a new shopping mantra for today’s careful consumers.
The question to explore is: Has consumer behavior changed really? The Indian consumer is always known for his smart bargaining approach, and today retailers are preparing themselves to face the future of need-based and price-conscious shopping. COVID has affected the way shoppers approach to retail, but as restrictions begin to loosen, shoppers are optimistic about 2021.