Cost of living: Australians shopping in stores has declined while online has increased

Australians have changed the way they’re clothes shopping in response to the cost of living crisis, new data has revealed.

Despite discretionary spending going down overall in the last 12 months, almost 40 per cent of consumers aged 18-39 have actually increased their usage of online shopping, the Australian Ecommerce Report 2023 found.

The research, conducted by IAB Australia and Pureprofile, determined recent cost of living pressures had seen consumers turn their back on physical stores in a bid to “save money” by using online discounts and price comparison sites.

Another nifty tactic Aussies are using to help make their hard earned cash stretch further is adopting a service provided by most e-tailers: wishlisting.

The Iconic, Australia’s largest online retailer, has seen a dramatic uptick in shoppers using it, with a brand spokesperson telling it is the modern day version of window shopping.

“Using The Iconic’s Wishlist feature means savvy shoppers can manage their spending and have full visibility on planned purchases before they add items to their cart,” Joanna Robinson, chief marketing officer, said.

“It helps shoppers prioritise what they buy and when, removing some of the impulsiveness of online shopping.

“It gives shoppers more time and space to assess and consider their purchases. I think there’s huge power in this. Shopping is emotional, budgeting is rational. Wishlisting gives you the best of both worlds.”

Interestingly, the very 2023 shopping phenomenon isn’t just affecting The Iconic. On TikTok, the hashtag “#wishlistideas” is filled with videos that have amassed a combined 275 million views to date, largely created by Gen Z and Millennial consumers.

Joanna said data pulled from wishlists created across the country provide telling insights into the psyche of the average Australian struggling through relentless rate hikes and rising living costs.

“Just in the last year alone, we’ve seen over 562,000 products wishlisted a total of 111 million times,” Joanna said.

“This is a huge indication that customers are changing the way they shop, using wishlists as part of their regular shopping journey.

“We’ve also had direct customer feedback that customers feel a certain sense of comfort when they can go back and scroll through the items they’ve saved.”

But while Joanna explained “the experience can be likened to that of the physical experience of browsing for items in-store and then piling up items that you want to try on in the change room in your arms” – for many, their digital shopping lists are just that. Wishes.

Many of the countless videos shared online are shared with similar captions, including words such as “unattainable” and “unrealistic”.

“Heart says yes, bank account says no,” one Melbourne woman captioned her video detailing all the things she would like to buy from The Iconic.

“I can only buy one, what should I go for?” another asked on her clip, showing off multiple products she had her eye on.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by The Iconic, which has announced on September 29 it was giving Australians the chance to win an item on their wishlist to celebrate the online store turning 12.

For 12 hours on this day, from 7am to 7pm, the brand is hosting “The Shop That Stops The Nation”.

During a two minutes time-frame within each hour, The Iconic will be gifting up to one in three Australians a gift to go towards their wishlist.

In order to be in the chance of snagging a prize, shoppers can add items to their wishlists now, and must be actively on The Iconic on Friday during the giveaway. readers have exclusive access to the first gifting timeslot, which will take place between 7.22am and 7.24am.

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