Online grocery shopping among top trends for Maltese digital consumers in 2020

Last Updated on Friday, 9 April, 2021 at 1:04 pm by Andre Camilleri

Online grocery shopping and purchasing items from local shops are the top trends observed amongst Maltese digital consumers in 2020, the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) has announced.

MCA published a study on how consumption patterns utilizing eCommerce have fared in 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 772 potential customers across Malta and Gozo were interviewed, with 53% of these customers being females and 47% being males. Customers with ages ranging from 18 to 65+ were interviewed. The data was collected during the months of August and September 2020.

According to its findings, a significant increase was found in online grocery shopping, with 33% of digital consumers making use of services; a 30% increase from the last study conducted in 2016.

“During this last year, one out of every three digital buyers purchased their daily needs over the internet – an impressive growth for online grocery shopping which was still far behind non-food online shopping”, EMA noted in a press release on their findings. “It will be interesting to see whether (and to what extent) this behaviour will stick post-COVID”.

The most popular products bought online in the last 6 months were clothes, footwear, jewellery and bags, with 81% of digital consumers purchasing these items, followed by take-away food, with 73% of digital purchases.

Local sites were also utilized more in 2020, with 53% of digital consumers purchasing from Maltese websites. This marks a rise from 31% of consumers buying from local websites in 2016.

While local sites saw a boost in sales, the most frequented country Maltese buyers purchase items from is the United Kingdom, with 87% of buyers purchasing from there.

When asked if consumers would rather purchase from local or foreign websites, 59% of consumers said it makes no difference to them, while 29% said they would prefer to buy from a foreign website and 13% said they would prefer to buy from a local website.

Smartphones proved to be the most popular device to access the internet, with 82% of users making use of their phones. The use of tablets, laptops and PCs has retained more or less the same usage level reported in the EMA’s survey conducted in 2016, with 41% using tablets to access the internet and 74% using laptops/PCs, both respectively in 2020.

The most popular activities carried out on users’ purchasing journeys were the checking of news with 94% of internet users checking the news while purchasing online, followed by social media at 93% and product/service research at 79%.

77% of consumers reported to have purchased an item online in the last 3 months of conducting the study. 14% of consumers said they last bought an item online more than 3 months but less than 6 months of the study being conducted, and 9% of users said they last bought an item online between six months and a year.

The most commonly used websites/platforms to make purchases were Ebay with 57% of users purchasing from the site, followed by 53% of users purchasing from Amazon and 26% of users purchasing from Asos.

The most sought-after promotional offers were free shipping/delivery, with 71% of users taking advantage of the offer, followed by sale or clearances with 40% of users and discounts on total order or selected products with 18% of users.

The preferred method of payment for most consumers was Paypal, with 76% of users utilizing the platform in 2020, followed by credit cards at 47%. The use of credit cards, however, dropped from 2016, where 65% of users made use of their credit cards.

Overall, online marketplaces were preferred to retailer websites across all age groups, especially younger cohorts (between 18 and 44 years).

The EMA concluded their study by noting that “the long-term effects of this pandemic on eCommerce are still to be seen”.

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