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Consumers are increasingly putting sustainability first, despite economic crisis

Even in the face of economic uncertainty, the majority of consumers are continuing to put sustainability at the top of their demands, according to a report from ecommerce platform Shopify.

The ‘Conscious Commerce’ report, for which 24,009 consumers from around the world were surveyed, found that 62% of consumers won’t compromise on sustainability, despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. And 45% of consumers are even willing to pay an extra fee if it reduces their carbon footprint.

Globally, 54% of consumers are already shopping sustainably by, for instance, choosing retailers that offer carbon-neutral shipping. This figure falls slightly to 52% when looking at the UK alone. As you might expect, the main generations driving this push toward conscious shopping are Millennials (61%), and Gen Z (59%), with 31% of both age groups also planning to be even more sustainable this year.

This desire to shop more consciously is also leading to more proactivity among consumers. Rather than waiting for the brands they already shop with to change, 24% are seeking out products with recyclable or eco-friendly packaging, and 24% are choosing to buy local. Meanwhile, 26% of consumers say retailers can retain their loyalty during the cost-of-living crisis by sticking to their values.

“This report shows climate-consciousness is driving purchasing decisions, even in challenging economic times,” said Stacy Kauk, Head of Sustainability at Shopify. “For both business and the climate, it’s in everyone’s interest to implement practices like carbon-neutral shipping and support for emerging sustainability solutions. This needs to be a collaboration between merchants, buyers, and the broader commerce community.”

The research, which also surveyed 9,012 businesses with less than 1,000 employees, reports that 82% of merchants globally (81% in the UK) believe that sustainability and improved company performance are interlinked.

However, cost is the biggest barrier to being more sustainable for 40% of businesses with 1 to 50 employees, and for 48% of businesses with 501 to 1,000 employees. Nonetheless, retailers with 501 to 1,000 employees are also the ones most likely (46%) to see the current economic landscape as a chance to accelerate sustainability programmes.

Interestingly, delivery times are an area where lower costs and sustainability may be able to go hand-in-hand. While 26% of businesses around the world (23% in the UK) were concerned about meeting fast delivery expectations during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales period, 60% (62% in the UK) of consumers are willing to wait longer for products to arrive from sustainable brands.

Other popular sustainable options being explored by retailers include in-store recycling (35% in the UK) and sustainability programmes where a percentage of sales are donated to non-profits (25% in the UK).


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