The Future of Shopping Trends: Adaptive Design and Quick Implementation to Instill Confidence in the Shopper


BOSTON – Architecture and design collaborative Bergmeyer released its 2020 Future of Shopping Trend Report, emphasizing the importance of adaptive design and a quick implementation to instill confidence in the shopper.

Bergmeyer’s retail design experts conducted a nationwide survey focused on identifying consumer’s sentiments on shopping, structuring the survey to first understand pre-COVID shopping behavior through a series of closed and open-ended questions, followed by post-COVID questions pointedly asking how their shopping behaviors had changed. The report provides first-hand insights for the retail industry to better understand changes in consumer behavior before and after the height of the pandemic.

Led by Bergmeyer’s Design Practice Leader, Eric Kuhn, the survey’s cross-section of respondents included a total of nearly 1000 respondents ranging from 18-75 years of age across 5 regional zones coast to coast. There were an even cross-section of male-to-female participants with income brackets ranging from $20,000 – $200,000.

“This year has challenged nearly all aspects of our daily lives, and the inevitable question we ask is whether this is permanent,” says Kuhn.  “There is no question that when it comes to shopping behavior (which is the focus of our search), there have been monumental changes, including a massive shift to online shopping. In this report we set out to provide an informed perspective from those who dictate the future of the retail industry: the consumer.”

Bergmeyer first established a pre-pandemic baseline, allowing their team to understand the sample group’s attitude toward shopping in a very broad way which surprisingly showed universal consistencies across all demographics.

  • Frequency of shopping: 70% of respondents said 1-3 times per week, both in store and online
  • How they shop: 40% both in-store and online, 30% in-store, 20% online
  • Top retail segments in-store: 50% of respondents said groceries, 30% said apparel
  • Top retail segments online: 30% of respondents said movies/music/games, 20% said electronics and apparel
  • Top driver in-store: touch and feel/immediate fulfillment
  • Top driver online: Convenience

When asked what inhibits in-store shopping there were telling statistics from respondents, with 40% sighting crowds as the resounding inhibitor, and a distant 15% sighting limited selection.

To learn how the pandemic has affected consumer shopping habits, Bergmeyer formulated a series of questions that align with the pre-COVID survey while adding more direct questions to gauge the current state of mind, and expectations for the future. Kuhn notes that “although there is legitimate concern and anxiety about where we stand in getting past this crisis, we see positives that will eventually surface from this global event.”

When asked if they see their in-store shopping habits changing:

  • 42% of respondents said “somewhat”
  • 30% said “not a great deal”
  • 10% said “not at all”

Interestingly by age Bergmeyer found the data break out as such:

  • 30-50 years of age: somewhat/significantly
  • 50+ years of age: not a great deal/not at all

While the general response was positive, Bergmeyer found clear differences as it pertains to the age groups that prohibit blanket statements that consumers expect to return to normal. The majority of respondents (35%) acknowledge they are somewhat apprehensive returning to non-essential shopping, followed by 20% being strongly apprehensive. A deeper dive into specific apprehensions found:

  • 60% of respondents sited crowds as the main driver
  • 25% sited cleanliness of the space
  • 10% sited the size of the space

Interestingly, those apprehensions all relate to each other, in that consumers want to be assured any space they go into will have well-executed protocols that comply with CDC standards and are clearly communicated and visually apparent.

When respondents were asked what it would take for retailers to instill this confidence:

  • 35% of respondents sited limiting crowds
  • 25% sited clearly communicated protocols
  • 20% sited visually seeing enforcement or compliance to established protocols

The Future of Shopping Trend Report also offers retailers and businesses tactics and expert recommendations from Bergmeyer’s retail design team, as well as future indicators on what consumers feel it will take to return to “the way things were,” as well as how long they think it will be before shopping is “back to normal.”

“While not always readily apparent, the survey results point to rays of hope for a return to pre-pandemic behavior or at a minimum the emergence of acceptable practices that will give people the confidence to shop again in person,” says Kuhn. “Retailers will need to meet customers where they feel comfortable engaging, and brands will need to use this moment to build stronger connections with customers. We see adaptive design is more critical than ever, and the ability for businesses to quickly implement these tactics is key to instilling confidence in the shopper.”

To view and/or download Bergmeyer’s full trend report, please visit