Commuter Commerce

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How do you spend your time while commuting? Catching up on the news? Checking your emails? Or shopping, perhaps? A recent research study has found that 43% of commuters in the UK have, at least four times a month, bought something online while commuting. It seems that going to or from work is the ideal time for some retail therapy, as commute retail contributes £22.8 billion to the economy every year, which amounts to 14% of annual online spending in the UK.

onefourzero’s own data also seems to confirm that commuters are keen to spend.

According to the same research, clothing is the most popular purchase between commuters, followed by health & beauty products and groceries. So we looked at the most popular UK fashion retailers by search demand, which includes ASOS, Boohoo, River Island, H&M and New Look. We then looked at app usage for the respective brands at different times of the day and identified an evening peak that starts around 5pm, when most people finish work. Overall, over 18% of the whole daily usage happens between 5pm and 8pm.

This increased volume of usage then continues through the evening until almost 11pm, indicating that consumers continue to browse online when they get home – the data, however, confirms that shopping begins on the journey home. It’s the magic of commute retail.

Sector: clothing

But why are commuters spending so much while they’re on the move? Convenience, time efficiency, improved Wi-Fi on trains, plus the rise of smartphones could all be contributing factors. A recent survey found that the most common reason commuters shop online during their journeys is the fact they have free time (26%), quickly followed by convenience (25%), and then boredom (17%).

Retailers, therefore, must look at ways they can benefit from this and work to inspire commuters. This could be by creating engaging and entertaining online content to alleviate the boredom mentioned, optimising their sites for mobile, offering special deals at rush hour or simply advertising on commuter trains. Yes, traditional advertising still works: 70% of commuters admit to buying something after seeing an ad on their commute.

Another interesting fact is that rail commuters tend to be higher spenders in general – as 9% of the UK’s adult population commutes by train, this group contributes 11% of total spending to the UK economy. This figure, naturally, is expected to rise.

The evidence suggests that retailers should try their utmost to tap into th commute retail consumer group. It could offer a goldmine of success.

For more information on how onefourzero’s digital data & market analysis can help you understand a brand’s equity and leverage trends in your product and campaign development, click here or contact