That brings the total number of hours shoppers spend searching and browsing online to four. More than a third (33.7%) have spent more time researching items in the past year before completing a purchase.

However, retail sales for online products tumbled down to £87.6bn between April 2022 and March 2023. That is £15.4bn lower than the retail sales value registered between April 2021 and March 2022, Retail Economics and FreedomPay state.

For in-store sales, the value slightly increased from £141bn (2021/22) to £142.6bn.

In addition, the study claims that age is a key driver of changes in “browsing behaviour”, with people aged between 25 and 35 dedicating around six hours per week to researching and comparing products across stores, online and other media such as TV and print.

Overall, half of the shoppers who spent more time “browsing” compared to last year are under 35.

Chris Kronenthal, president of FreedomPay, said: “This new research validates FreedomPay’s perspective on the future of retail that merchants demand a seamless, true omnichannel experience to serve the modern-day shopper both online and offline.

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“Payment evolution is accelerating rapidly, and it’s imperative to have a fully connected economy, technology and data will become the currency of the new digital era”, Kronenthal added.

UK consumers and the cost-of-living crisis

Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine have driven up inflation, making it difficult for UK consumers to afford new items.

For credit cardholders, the challenge has been more accute. In March, a FICO report revealed that the average amount spent by UK consumers on their credit cards was £755. This amount represents an 8% decrease from December 2022, when the average spending was £825.

“Households have adopted a relentless focus on value as stubbornly high levels of inflation and rising interest rates continues to squeeze finances”, Retail Economics CEO Richard Lim added. “Shoppers are spending considerably more time searching for the best deals, cheapest prices and most competitive retailers before committing to a purchase.”

UK consumers, he says, are returning to brick-and-mortar shopping to get lower prices and avoid added online costs. However, Lim argues that online browsing for products remains important for inspiration and decision-making.

“This leaves an opportunity for retailers to drive personalised experiences to support conversion as shoppers dedicate more time to browsing and researching the right products. Amid the depressed economic backdrop, the research shows most people value personalised offers and discounts when shopping – well ahead of new products and loyalty offers”, the report states.