One-third of S'poreans made first online purchase amid Covid-19 pandemic: Poll

The study of 1,000 Singaporeans aged 18 to 65 found that consumers are more inclined to shop at online destinations.
The study of 1,000 Singaporeans aged 18 to 65 found that consumers are more inclined to shop at online destinations.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Nearly three in four (74 per cent) consumers in Singapore are shopping online more frequently as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a Visa study showed. One-third (31 per cent) of Singaporeans also made an online purchase for the first time.

This change in behaviour is due to the nationwide lockdown, safe distancing measures and personal safety concerns prompted by the pandemic.

Conducted in September last year, the study of 1,000 Singaporeans aged 18 to 65 found that consumers are more inclined to shop at online destinations such as large marketplaces (45 per cent), local businesses (31 per cent) and home-based businesses (31 per cent).

Meanwhile, more than half (52 per cent) of the respondents shopped less frequently in physical stores.

Here are more findings from the study:

The poll identified many fresh faces joining Singapore's pool of online shoppers. One-third (31 per cent) of the respondents shopped online for the first time during the pandemic, making purchases via websites or mobile applications.

Among the two in five (41 per cent) people shopping more frequently via social media channels, one is a first-timer. This makes up 21 per cent of the consumers surveyed.

The poll also found that one in four (25 per cent) consumers used home delivery for the first time during the pandemic. To add, seven in 10 (71 per cent) respondents used home-delivery services more frequently. This amounts to almost 83 per cent of the Singaporeans surveyed who are using the service (86 per cent).

New habits may outlast Covid-19

Mr Kunal Chatterjee, Visa country manager for Singapore and Brunei, is confident that these new habits will outlast the pandemic.

"Since the onset of Covid-19, people have changed the way they shop and pay, and these changes are unlikely to reverse, even as a vaccine becomes more widely available," he said.

The study showed that 20 per cent of consumers expect to continue shopping from large online marketplaces, while 14 per cent expect to shop from home-based businesses, and 10 per cent from local businesses, after the pandemic is over.

Mr Chatterjee noted that businesses have also responded accordingly. "More companies are going digital, and this trend is likely to stay," he added.

Overseas travel to bounce back

While online shopping has increased, other markets have seen a decline in consumer spending.

Participants said they postponed or reduced spending on international travel (67 per cent), out-of-home entertainment (63 per cent), luxury items (59 per cent) and fine dining (57 per cent).

Despite being the most affected segment, international travel is expected to have the quickest recovery after the pandemic, with nearly three in five (59 per cent) Singaporeans planning to travel once border restrictions are lifted.