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While the effects of the worsening economic climate will reduce overall consumer spending, e-commerce looks to be in a good position to weather the storm, according to a new survey.

While 64% of respondents said that the economic climate would force them to reduce their overall spending, 56% said that they would continue to shop online as much as they are already, while some will even spend more.

This is one of the findings of E-consultancy's Online Shopping and Credit Crunch Survey Report, produced in association with Logan Tod and Immediate Future, asked more than 1,300 UK adults about the effects of the credit crunch on their spending habits.

Importance of price

Unsurprisingly, price is crucial for shoppers when shopping online; 64% said this was the major factor in their purchase decision, though 24% believed that user reviews and personal recommendations were more important.

Importance of reviews

One theme that emerged from the survey was the growing relevance of user reviews when buying online. 62% of those surveyed said that they are now more likely to consult online reviews before making a purchase.

Comparison sites

Many consumers still rely on shopping comparison sites when looking for the best deal. When asked how they find the best deals, comparison sites was the most popular answer, while others named sites like Kelkoo and Pricerunner by name.

Lessons for retailers

Retailers currently not offering user reviews or submitting their product feeds to comparison engines should consider doing so, as these are clearly important for consumers when deciding on a purchase.

However, there are variations according to age so retailers need to take account of their target markets. For instance, while 72% of the 25-34 age group said they would be more likely to read online reviews, the figure for over 55s was just 53%.

According to Matthew Tod: 

"We can see from this report that Silver surfers are not into social media or comparison engines and are intending to spend more as the downturn does not touch them."

"But on the other hand a whole group of more financially pressed
people who now use social media to make decisions and then comparison engines to find the best deal."
 
"Complexity rules and simple strategies will fail if online retailers don't
understand this."

See our Online Shopping and Credit Crunch Survey Report for more on consumer spending habits and how they may be affected by the economic downturn. The report also covers searching habits, influences on purchase decisions, and use of blogs and social media when shopping online.

Related articles:
Q&A: MORE TH>N's Roberto Hortal Munoz on comparison sites
Is the downturn leading to greater use of e-commerce?

Graham Charlton

Published 14 August, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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Alastair Campbell

I think that e-commerce will do well out of the downturn compaired to the High Street as it can often compete better with lower overheads. I have also written thought on how to survive the slowdown in a free tips booklet available as a pdf or in printed form at www.themarketingmentor.co.uk

almost 8 years ago

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