Welcome to Klarna’s Shopping Pulse.

Almost 2 years into the pandemic, digital transformation has accelerated, and shoppers have turned online more than ever before. Many retailers have pivoted to evolve their online presence to meet new shopper expectations online. 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.

Happy exploring!

Methodology.

Insights from Klarna’s consumer research, conducted in cooperation with Nepa across 11 countries (the US, UK, Australia, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Norway, and Finland). The research is conducted quarterly and always includes a minimum of 1,000 respondents in each country. In total, 11,740 consumers participated during Q1 2022 (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.

11 countries

11,740 consumers

147m consumers

400,000 retailers

Online shopping data.
Insights from Klarna’s shopping data. Klarna serves more than 147 million consumers and 400,000 retailers.

Digital transformation in retail.

Online shopping has accelerated amid the pandemic. 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 is on the rise.

Shoppers globally are growing increasingly fond of online shopping. Not surprisingly, many retailers have stepped up their digital offerings during the pandemic. Younger generations prefer the online shopping experience while their older peers are trending in the same direction as they grow increasingly tech-savvy.

Insights.

  • Shoppers in the UK and Sweden express a higher preference for online shopping than physical stores.

  • Finland and the Netherlands have had the highest increased preference for online shopping last year.

  • The younger generations (Gen Z & Millennials) already favor online shopping over physical stores in most countries.

  • Baby Boomers (57-75-year-olds) in Germany and the UK stand out as tech-savvy and prefer online shopping to a greater extent compared to their generational counterparts in all other countries

Physical stores are still the norm for shoppers.

Consumers are still shopping in physical stores more frequently than they are shopping online. Preference for online shopping is the highest in the UK, US and Australia.

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.

Some categories appear more available online than others.

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 average percentage of shoppers in each market who have shopped the category online and in physical stores respectively.

Insights

  • To a great extent, Groceries and Pharmaceutical products are 2 of the most frequently shopped categories in physical stores. The only exception is Sweden, where Pharmaceutical products are bought online roughly as often as offline.

  • Clothing & Shoes, one of the most frequently bought categories, is shopped about as often online as in physical stores in most countries. Younger generations are more likely to have shopped this category more often online than in physical stores across almost all countries.

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.

Insights.

  • Groceries, Pharmaceutical products, and Home & Garden, which are the most preferred categories to shop in physical stores, have had the biggest increase in online shopping preference.

  • Groceries is the most preferred category to shop in physical stores across all countries (except for Australia) and has its highest online shopping preference in the UK, with the US not far behind.

  • Germany is the only country where Groceries has had a steady declining preference for online during the last year. Austria is the only country with an even lower online preference.

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.

Insights.

  • Saving time and lower prices remain the 2 main perceived benefits of online shopping, especially for German and Austrian shoppers. More shoppers believe that social interaction and customer service are better at physical stores.

  • The benefits attributed to physical stores are fewer, but have a higher impact for the final verdict in regards to the best overall shopping experience.

  • Younger generations, that are more likely to purchase items seen on social media and attend live shopping events, also think they get better social interaction online to a higher extent.

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.

Insights.

  • Frictionless payments is the most wanted improvement across all countries.

  • Personalized service and product recommendations come next on the wishlist, followed by seamless transition between online and physical stores.

  • Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) is currently twice as anticipated for online shopping in the wider population—but US Gen Z’ers stand out by expecting investments to the same extent in physical stores.

If there was only one choice.

Given a choice between only shopping online, or in physical stores, there are clear signs of the online shopping experience being increasingly invaluable for shoppers.

Insights

  • The majority of Gen Z and Millennials would opt for online shopping if they had to choose. Millennials to the highest extent.

  • 65% of Gen Z’ers in Sweden and the UK would not go back to physical stores if they had to sacrifice one of the two channels.

  • The majority of shoppers in the UK, only exception being Baby Boomers, would choose online over physical stores.

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, 2022.

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, 2022.

Insights.

  • In most countries, the average daily peak hour takes place in the evening.

  • Older shoppers are most likely to shop early in the day.

  • Purchases with payment methods requiring shoppers to type in their physical card credentials have a significantly lower share at night.

An average online shopping week.

While the way shoppers distribute the 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, 2022.

Insights.

  • The pandemic outbreak in the first quarter of 2020 immediately caused a shift in consumption patterns all over the world, increasing the share of purchases during weekdays. This effect lasted only a couple of weeks and soon returned to normal.

  • Sundays are the preferred days to shop in the Nordics and DACH.

  • Seniors are more likely to shop during weekdays.

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 path to shopping begins in similar patterns according to countries and generations, with search engines (e.g., Google) being the channel of choice for product search. Consumers tend to visit online stores a second time to research their products.

Followers become buyers.

On average, 33% of shoppers have purchased a product after seeing it on social media. And about 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.

Insights.

  • Retailers have a higher impact than influencers in most countries. France and the Netherlands being the only exceptions.

  • The younger you are, the more likely you are to follow influencers to a higher extent than retailers. The opposite is true for retailers.

Social media climbers.

Social media has made it easier than ever to discover new trends and items. Shoppers find both inspiration—and shopping opportunities.

Insights.

  • In every country, TikTok is more popular than Facebook for Gen Z. Facebook is the overall most popular platform for Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers.

  • Instagram and Facebook is the most popular platform for Millennials in every country, except for Finland, where Youtube has the most impact.

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.

Insights.

  • US shoppers participate the most in livestream shopping events. It’s about twice as common that they have attended an event compared to the global average.

  • 1 out of 3 Gen Z’ers and Millennials in the US have participated in a live shopping event. There are twice as many on a global average compared to their generational counterparts in Austria and Germany.

Benefits of livestream shopping.

The modern online version of teleshopping invites shoppers to engage with their favorite influencers to get inspiration and get access to exclusive discounts.

Insights.

  • Inspiration is the main perceived benefit on a global average. But the sentiment varies across countries, from real-time engagement in the US to access to exclusive discounts in Germany and France, and more informed purchase decisions in the Netherlands.

  • Innovative formats (Augmented/Virtual reality) appeal the most to Millennials and Gen Z’ers.

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 rising in the countries with the lowest preference at the beginning of the year.

Insights.

  • All countries that have had a recorded preference below 30% in 2021 have shown a clear trend for increasing mobile preference at the expense of computers. France is the only country that currently has a mobile shopping preference lower than 30%.

  • The US is the only country where the majority of shoppers have a higher preference for mobile devices than computers.

The in-store shopping journey begins online.

Online research, also called “webrooming,” plays an important role throughout the in-store shopping journey. The majority of modern day trips to the mall start online.

The chart below illustrates the percentage of in-store shoppers who usually research online before shopping in physical stores.

Insights.

  • Online pre-search is most prevalent for Clothing & Shoes, and Electronics.

  • Electronics stands out as the category researched by at least 8 out of 10 shoppers, across all generations.

Online research is part of the in-store shopping experience.

Smartphones have become ubiquitous for shoppers while they’re in a store. Similar to online, in-store shoppers are also making comparisons for competitive prices and offers, and checking product reviews and testimonials to make sure they’ve 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.

Insights.

  • Swedes stand out as the most frequent smartphone users in physical stores, both in terms of frequency and occasional in-store research.

  • US, Australia and Sweden have the highest share of frequent usage.

  • Using their phone in the store correlates with age, as young shoppers do this more often. Finland has the most prominent example, where this behavior is found in 92% of Gen Z’ers while only 42% of Baby Boomers do the same.

A year from now.

Over the past 2 decades, online shopping has pivoted from something for early adopters and enthusiasts into 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 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.