Welcome to Klarna’s Shopping Pulse!
3 years after the pandemic, an event that accelerated the digital transformation with unprecedented pace, shoppers continue to turn online, having formed new habits that persisted beyond restrictions and lockdowns. Many retailers have pivoted to evolve their online presence to meet new shopper expectations. But does this mean physical stores are irrelevant? Not at all. Our research shows physical stores still play an essential role for shoppers. That said, many people anticipate they will shop online even more often in the future.
In this report, you’ll find a pulse check on shopping habits worldwide.
Insights from Klarna’s consumer research, conducted in cooperation with Nepa across 17 countries (the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain).
The research is conducted quarterly and always includes a minimum of 1,000 respondents in each country. In total, 17,218 consumers participated during Q1 2023 (January-March). The sample sizes are nationally representative, naturally including both Klarna users and non-Klarna users, and have been selected by research agency, Nepa.
Online shopping data.
Insights from Klarna’s shopping data. Klarna serves more than 150 million consumers and 500,000 retailers.
Digital transformation in retail.
Online shopping has accelerated with unprecedented pace over the past couple of years. And there are no signs of the digital transformation slowing down. Shoppers’ preferences for online shopping continue to increase despite restrictions lifting in physical stores worldwide.
Online shopping continues to rise.
Shoppers globally are growing increasingly fond of online shopping. Not surprisingly, many retailers stepped up their digital offerings during the pandemic and have continued to make their virtual offering more appealing. Younger generations prefer the online shopping experience while their older peers are trending in the same direction as they grow increasingly tech-savvy.
The chart illustrates consumers’ mindset regarding the extent they prefer to shop online and in physical stores.
is preferred over physical stores by the majority in the US, UK, Germany, Sweden, and Italy.
Rapid online growth
All countries covered in this report have increased their online shopping preference since the tracking started, and the aggregated global value increases steadily quarter over quarter.
If the current trend continues, the global index will shift from mostly in-store to mostly online during 2023.
Gen Z & Millennials
would stay online and never return to physical stores if they had to sacrifice one of the two.
of Millennials and 51% of Gen Z'ers, globally, would opt for only shopping online if they had to choose.
Where shoppers would do most of their shopping if they could choose freely.
The charts below show how shoppers in each country would choose to split their shopping between online and in-store. The remaining population has a neutral preference.
The most tech-savvy Baby Boomers
are found in the US.
of Baby Boomers in the US prefer to do most of their shopping online.
Where shoppers are currently shopping.
Physical stores are still the norm and consumers still visit them more frequently despite the growing preference for online shopping.
While some retail categories are shopped more often online, physical stores still see certain product types are bought more often in person. The biggest differences are found across some of the most commonly bought categories, indicating an opportunity for disruption, as online shopping’s main drivers are convenience and the ability to save time.
The charts below show the percentage of shoppers in each market who have shopped online and in physical stores respectively at least once a week – and what categories have been shopped on a monthly average.
of Swedes bought pharmaceutical products online in the last quarter, twice as many as the global average.
almost twice as many shopped groceries online in the UK (47%) than in Germany (26%) during Q1 2023.
of Americans would prefer to do the majority of their grocery shopping online.
Traditional offline categories ripe for disruption.
Online shopping means people can access offers from all over the world, regardless of whether they are in a major city or the countryside. Still, some products appear more available than others.
The chart illustrates consumers’ mindset with regards to the extent they prefer to shop online and in physical stores.
Rapid online growth
Children products and Clothing & Shoes have had the biggest increase in online shopping preference over the past two years.
Groceries, Pharmaceutical products, and Home & Garden, which are the most preferred categories to shop in physical stores, have steadily increased their online shopping preference over the past 2 years.
The final verdict
is that the overall shopping experience is better in-store, according to the majority. The benefits attributed to physical stores are fewer, but have a higher impact.
think the overall shopping experience is better in-store, on a global average.
Attitudes towards online and physical stores.
Shoppers’ choice heavily depends on whether they are looking to save time and money—or whether they are looking for better social interaction and customer service.
Younger generations think they get better social interaction online to a higher extent. This correlates with being more likely to purchase items seen on social media and attend live shopping events.
Saving time & money
are the 2 main perceived benefits of online shopping.
Better social interaction & service
are the 2 main perceived benefits of in-store shopping.
Bridging the gap between the digital and in-store shopping experience.
The vast majority of consumers would find it useful to be able to speak with store clerks or product experts when they shop online to get real-time assistance and guidance while making their purchase decisions. A bit like having your very own personal shopping assistant at your fingertips, providing the same level of service you would expect in-store.
Shoppers expect continued innovation in the retail space.
The vast majority of shoppers across the world believe that retailers need to continuously invest in new technology to meet their evolving expectations. This is consistent across all countries and age groups.
believe retailers should be looking to elevate their shopping experience further.
Technology investments are a must.
Today’s shoppers are looking for innovative solutions that give them a better shopping experience. These are the main focus areas for online and physical stores, according to shoppers themselves.
is the most wanted improvement across all countries—both online and in-store.
Personalized service and product recommendations
are next on the wishlist, followed by a seamless transition between online and physical stores.
Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR)
is more anticipated for online shopping than in-store.
Online shopping habits.
Online shopping has evolved into an integral part of retail; it has become a natural part of the everyday life of consumers. Data from Klarna shows when and where shoppers all over the world shop and how their favorite products shift across regions.
The online shopping map.
Select a country in the list below to see where people shop the most online per capita, where online shopping is growing the fastest, and how the most commonly bought products shift across regions. The data is from January 1 – March 31, 2023.
The index for “Favorite Products” is calculated in relation to the national average, and does not necessarily reflect the products that are most often bought overall—but most often in comparison with other regions in the same country.
An average online shopping day.
The most prominent perk of shopping online is how it can be done any time, from any corner of the world. It can be both a time saver and a convenient way of getting access to products not in stock in your local physical store. Most online purchases take place late in the evening, often in the comfort of shoppers’ own homes.
The chart below illustrates how purchases are distributed during an average day. The data is from January 1 – March 31, 2023.
are the most popular time to buy for older generations. It’s also the peak hours for desktop computers.
are the most popular time to shop online in most countries. And this is when mobile shopping increases the most.
is when the share of mobile phones increases further and consumers, to a higher extent, opt for payment methods that don’t require them to type in physical card credentials.
An average online shopping week.
While the way shoppers distribute purchases during the day is universal, the most common day to shop varies much more clearly across countries.
The chart below illustrates how purchases are distributed during an average week. The data is from January 1 – March 31, 2023.
The pandemic outbreak
immediately caused a shift in consumption patterns all over the world, temporarily making the share of purchases during weekdays. This effect was short lived, and shopping patterns soon returned to normal with most purchases taking place late evenings.
The most preferred day to shop in the US is Friday.
Evolving payment preferences.
Payments are a fundamental part of the shopping experience that continues to evolve with emerging preferences driven by technological innovation.
The rise of Buy Now, Pay Later.
Shoppers all over the world are turning to Buy Now, Pay Later to an increasingly higher extent. In fact, there is only one country featured in this report in which shoppers prefer credit cards over Buy Now, Pay Later.
According to the consumers themselves, the main reasons for choosing Buy Now, Pay Later over credit cards are to avoid having an open line of credit and save money, since it’s cheaper compared to credit cards that charge additional fees and interest.
16 out of 17
The preference for Buy Now, Pay Later is higher than credit cards in 16 out of 17 countries. The only country in which most shoppers would opt for a credit card over BNPL is Italy, and it’s close.
expect retailers to invest in technology that gives them more frictionless payments online, and 52% say the same about physical stores.
of shoppers are more positive towards buying from an online store that would enable them to pay after delivery.
find it useful to split the payments for a high-ticket item into equal parts, without any additional cost or interest.
Try before you buy.
The majority of shoppers are more positive towards online retailers that allow them to receive the goods before they pay. No physical store would require shoppers to deposit a payment before they touch, feel, and try the goods, and only reimburse their shoppers a few bank days later if they didn’t end up buying it. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that shoppers turn to retailers that bridge that gap in the online shopping experience—and enable them to turn their sitting rooms into fitting rooms.
A significant share of shoppers are looking for brands and retailers to act in a more sustainable way. Adhering to this calling can boost businesses from compliance to competitive advantage.
Sustainability-minded shoppers actively seek out brands and retailers that share their values.
The importance for brands and retailers to act in an environmentally sustainable way is deemed as important across generations. Younger generations more often take the environmental impact of delivery options into consideration when shopping online, and seek out brands that are ethical and sustainable to a higher extent.
1 in 3
consider it important that brands act in an environmentally sustainable way.
1 in 4
actively seek out brands that are ethical and sustainable.
The majority of shoppers that take environmental impact into consideration are looking for information that helps guide their purchase decision, including both environmental and social impact of the business.
want retailers to promote fair labor conditions, use recycled or sustainable material in production, and actively combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
Transparency is key.
The majority of shoppers that take environmental impact into consideration are looking for information that helps guide their purchase decision. They want more information at product level, about how it was made and the potential environmental and social impacts.
are looking for ways to track their carbon footprint while shopping.
Growing the circular economy.
The convenience of online shopping is at an all-time high, and consumers are now more focused on sustainability and cost-effectiveness than ever before. Moreover, the process of listing secondhand items online has never been simpler.
The majority has bought a pre-owned item online.
Buying secondhand not only provides an opportunity to snag a great deal, but it also seems to be habit-forming. In fact, the majority of consumers who have purchased a pre-owned item within the past year are likely to do so again.
Driving forces and barriers.
Understanding the driving forces and barriers behind consumer behavior is crucial when it comes to the pre-owned goods market. Some consumers are motivated by sustainability concerns, others by cost-effectiveness, while some may simply enjoy the uniqueness of items they can find secondhand. On the other hand, barriers to purchasing pre-owned items may include concerns over quality, lack of trust in the seller, or a preference for new goods.
The majority has sold a pre-owned item online.
It seems that many consumers are fully participating in the circular economy, as roughly the same number of people who have purchased a pre-owned item online have also sold one. This exchange of secondhand goods is what gives the circular economy its name.
Attitudes towards online re-selling.
It’s becoming more popular to sell pre-owned items, but at the same time many consumers admit they have not yet listed items they would like to sell. They would be more likely to do so if they could have their payment guaranteed.
think its financially savvy to sell things they no longe use.
would be more likely to list items if their payment was guaranteed by the marketplace.
Social shopping on the rise.
Social media and online live shopping events drive increased engagement, discovery, and more informed purchasing decisions—particularly among younger generations.
Digitalization of shopping.
The shopping discovery path is shaped in different patterns across countries and generations but one common unifying factor is the tendency to rely on digital channels to an increasing extent.
most often look for inspiration in online stores, while 34% say the same about physical stores.
It's twice as common to seek shopping inspiration on social media rather than in physical media like magazines and other publications.
buy a product after seeing it on social media, on a monthly average.
Followers become buyers.
On average, 35% of shoppers have purchased a product after seeing it on social media. And more than half of them did it directly from the platform.
Social channels to shopping discovery.
After discovering it on social media, purchasing a product is becoming common in all consumer groups—and especially among younger generations. These are the type of accounts that have the highest chance of inspiring shoppers.
have a bigger impact than retailers on Gen Z, and the opposite is true for older generations.
have a higher impact than influencers in most countries. France and the Netherlands being the only exceptions.
have the highest following on a global average.
Social media climbers.
Social media has made it easier than ever to discover new trends and items. Shoppers find both inspiration and shopping opportunities.
is more popular than Facebook for Gen Z in every country, with just one exception.
is together with Facebook the most popular platform for Millennials in every country, but TikTok is catching up.
is the overall most popular platform for Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers.
Taking the shopping experience to the next level.
Shoppers are looking for innovative online shopping experiences, and are keen to engage with new types of experiences such as livestream shopping.
1 in 5
Gen Z’ers have participated in a live shopping event.
Benefits of livestream shopping.
The modern, online version of teleshopping invites shoppers to engage with their favorite influencers to get inspiration and access exclusive discounts.
making more informed purchase decisions, along with getting inspiration, ideas & access to exclusive discount are the main perceived benefits on a global average.
like augmented/virtual reality appeal the most to Millennials and Gen Z’ers.
Shop smarter with price comparisons.
The thrill of finding a great deal is a feeling that transcends cultures and borders. With the rise of digital retail, bargain hunting has been revolutionized, giving consumers unprecedented access to price comparison tools that allow them to find the best possible deals.
The power of price comparison.
Price comparison is a widely adopted practice by consumers globally. The rise of online shopping and smart shopping services has made it even more accessible to compare prices across retailers. It’s a crucial tactic for making informed purchasing decisions and getting the most value out of every dollar spent.
of consumers compare prices, and the majority (54%) do it often.
would find it useful to have an app that help them compare prices.
The modern way to hunt for bargains.
Gone are the days of physically searching for bargains. The digitalization of retail has revolutionized the way consumers hunt for deals, making it easier and more convenient to compare prices across different retailers. By leveraging technology, consumers can save both time and money when shopping, all from the comfort of their own homes.
is the most popular way to compare prices across stores. In fact, the only country in which the majority compare prices across physical stores is the US.
is the only country where consumers more often user price comparison services instead of browsing online stores to compare prices.
One app to compare them all.
In today’s world of online shopping, consumers are looking for ways to save both time and money. These are the features that consumers would want in an app that allows them to compare products and prices across multiple online stores, all from the convenience of their own device.
want to compare prices across retailers.
Mobile shopping online and in-store.
As smartphones and tablets continue to take screen time from computers, mobile devices are expected to play a central role in the continued digitalization of retail.
Mobile shopping on the rise.
While most shoppers still prefer traditional desktops or laptops when shopping online, the preference for mobile devices is trending upwards globally.
Increasing mobile preference
All countries that had a recorded preference below 30% in 2021 have shown a clear trend for increasing mobile preference at the expense of computers. Today, only one country has a mobile shopping preference lower than 30%.
Majority of mobile shoppers
The US, Ireland, and Australia have a majority of shoppers with a higher preference for mobile devices than computers.
The in-store shopping journey begins online.
The digital shopping revolution doesn’t only mean that people are shopping more online. Online research, also called “webrooming,” plays an important role throughout the in-store shopping journey. For the majority of people, a trip to the mall starts before they arrive.
The chart below illustrates the percentage of in-store shoppers who usually research online before shopping in physical stores.
are sometimes (or often) researching online before they go in-store, out of which:
do it often.
Smartphones have forever changed the in-store shopping experience.
Even when shoppers are physically in-store, they are also online, using their phones to compare competitive prices and offers and to check product reviews and testimonials to make sure they have found the right product.
The chart below illustrates the share of in-store shoppers who say they use their smartphones to research products when shopping in physical stores.
are sometimes (or often) using their smartphones in-store, out of which:
do it often.
A year from now.
Over the past 2 decades, online shopping has pivoted from something for early adopters and enthusiasts to the preferred way to shop for people all over the world. Technological innovation will continue to marvel and excite, retailers will continue to improve their digital offering, and the digitalization of retail will continue to shape the future of shopping.
Predictions for the future.
There’s still a general belief that the majority of shopping will be done in physical stores in a year’s time—but preferences are quickly shifting.
This chart illustrates the share of shoppers believing they will make the majority of their shopping online or in physical stores respectively.
And that’s that.
Klarna’s Shopping Pulse insights are updated quarterly, so stay tuned for future updates.
Thirsty for more knowledge?
Make sure to check out the other reports available at Klarna Insights.