The Nation of Shopkeepers Turns to Their Smartphones – Brits More Likely to Use Their Smartphones to Shop

Blog attributed to Jason Reed, Lead Analyst, Digital Consumer at GSMA Intelligence

Cancelled seasonal parties, remembering face masks and hand sanitisers, nervous coughs, WFH, closed stores except for essential shopping. There are a lot good reasons to hunker down this winter in the UK.

For the dedicated online shoppers among us, 2020’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday may bring some retail therapy cheer. It’s not a British tradition, but like trick or treating at Halloween (another casualty of this year lockdown, sorry kids), we didn’t do it a few years ago, and now it’s everywhere.

As the lead analyst for digital consumer market trends at GSMA Intelligence, I may just have some insight as to why the UK has taken to these shopping events like a duck to water.

Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, here’s a snapshot of some results from our 2020 consumer trends survey.

  1. Folklore has it that Napoleon once called the UK a “nation of shopkeepers.” These days, Brits are more likely to use their mobile phones to shop than most of Europe. Among all UK smartphone owners, 34% shop online using their phone at least once a week, compared toto 21% in France and 29% in Germany. This figure is even higher – at 48% – for UK consumers with 5G smartphones. It means shoppers are increasingly making buying decisions from anywhere, even while walking their dog in a park.


  1. Lockdown has left Brits with little choice but to stay at home, signalling renewed interest in smart home technologies. With people spending more time in doors, it seems they are more willing to spend money on home improvements. There are currently about 9 million homes with at least one smart home device in the UK. This Black Friday, we expect an additional 200K households to add their first smart home device. The most popular devices bought will be the smart doorbell (45%) and smart security cameras (39%).


  1. Despite more people taking note of their health and fitness during the pandemic, fitness tracker ownership remained flat in the UK between 2019 and 2020 (23% in 2020 compared to 22% in 2019). Perhaps this is due to people using fitness tracking apps on their smart phones. As we approach Black Friday, fitness trackers are expected to be the least popular wearable, with only 7% planning to buy a new one in the next 12 months. About twice as many, or 12% of Brits, plan to buy a smartwatch, which not only allow consumers to track their health, but also to take photos, shop online, and stay connected. And 11% plan to splash out on wireless headphones.


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