As the coronavirus crisis continues, even more consumers have cut down shopping in stores. This is reflected particularly clearly in specialty goods stores, department stores and shopping centres in the capital region. At the same time, the number of digital shoppers has grown briskly in a matter of weeks. Especially families with children shop more online, but also the oldest age groups do more digital shopping than before. Direct targeted support measures are urgently needed to help companies currently struggling with problems caused by the coronavirus crisis survive during the worst period.
A physical store plays a key role in the retail trade of home and living products, both with regard to seeking pre-purchase information and the actual purchase. Digital channels and mobile platforms in particular are increasingly important, with the coronavirus crisis accelerating the development. The place of purchase is often decided on based on price, but the selection of products and quality, among other factors, are also important selection criteria for many. The coronavirus is threatening the most important season of the hardware store sector, the largest sector within the specialty goods trade. An increase in the tax credit for household expenses would quickly help the sector.
The acute coronavirus crisis has dramatically decreased shopping in stores, and it is evident particularly as a crash in sales in specialty goods trade. However, digital shopping is increasing and one-fifth of consumers intend to make more purchases online as the crisis continues. Consumers in older age groups are also willing to try online shopping, and do more of it. The pandemic has already caused a wave of layoffs and dismissals in the commerce sector, and the Finnish Commerce Federation is calling for urgent direct support for companies.
Online stores outside the EU gain an unfair and significant competitive edge compared to Finnish stores. One of the main differences arises from product safety legislation. To strengthen fair competition as well as consumer safety, product safety legislation should also be applied to consumer sales outside of the EU.
The recent e-commerce survey conducted by the Finnish Commerce Federation shows that the digitalisation of the Finnish commerce sector has been rapid and that domestic e-commerce has especially taken over a bigger share of the market. Domestic online stores are also appreciated. Despite this, a lot remains to be done in internationalisation of the Finnish e-commerce. Online grocery trade has grown at a furious pace, and the coronavirus pandemic will most likely further accelerate growth.
Buying is easy for ageing customers and visiting physical stores is preferred. However, most customers over 55 do not use mobile devices when shopping nor do they want to receive mobile advertisements, unlike younger customers. Even though many ageing people buy and order fluently from online stores, especially those over 65 do also encounter difficulties in digital purchases. Are online stores designed only for younger people?