Intent to purchase at retail finally growing

IMI research finds glimmer of hope for bricks-and-mortar as online shopping wanes.


According to the latest IMI research, consumer intent to purchase at shopping malls has finally seen an increase after months of declining interest, with 18% of people likely to shop.

IMI’s Global Recovery & Playbook compared consumer sentiment across a range of variables and geographies between June 10 and July 8, 2020.

According to the research, Canadians’ desires to purchase “whatever I need online” is showing a net decrease of 14% compared with a month prior, while online shopping for personal care products and for food and meals (which held steady or increased between April and June) saw a net decline (-1% and -7%).

The research firm also surveyed Canadians regarding their intent to dine, and while family-style restaurants and bars saw a surge in interest month over month (a net increase in intent of 11% and 10%), cafes and QSRs saw their momentum stall (with a slight increase of 7% and 6%), while buffet-style restaurants took a plunge, seeing a net decrease of -24%. This Friday, Ontario will lift restrictions for most of the market as it enters stage three, allowing most restaurants to reopen, with the exception of buffet-style foodservice businesses.


Canadians also reported an increased intent to travel, with more interest to fly by plane (28% net increase), stay in a hotel (28% net increase) and take a family vacation (25% net increase) compared with April.

At the local level, community event attendance intent showed a sizeable net increase (11%), followed by live festivals (8%) and concerts (7%). The survey also found heightened interest in attending outdoor and indoor events, as well as concerts with 20,000 plus people, although the overall interest remains low.

IMI also examined factors that boost consumer confidence should they venture out.

Canadians, according to IMI, are more likely to purchase, research, share or feel positive sentiment toward a brand if they put their health and safety first — like offering snap-on grocery cart handles or protective barriers in gyms or between tables at QSRs. Survey participants also said they would respond positively toward a brand if they offer some sort of digital shopping convenience — such as allowing a user to scan clothing items in real-life in order to try on virtually.

When it comes to signage in store, IMI recommends using known colours to communicate COVID safety messaging, and that functional messaging (rather than fearmongering) adds value. IMI suggests using common sense measures in public places, including physical distancing, sanitizers and crowd restrictions.