UK consumers would go back to shopping in the 80s and 90s if they had the choice

Shoppers pine for the shopping experience of old as nearly half regularly buy vintage.

Many UK shoppers miss old products, old stores and old jingles as they pine for the past, with almost half (43%) agreeing they regularly buy vintage.

A new survey of more than 2,000 UK consumers found 10% buy vintage to decorate their home, while the same percentage view buying retro as a hobby. Just over one in 10 (12%) shop vintage purely for sentimental value and 15% say they missed “simpler times” when they weren’t shown brands 24/7 across different channels.

The survey from omnichannel customer engagement platform Emarsys found that the hit list of vintage products people buy are VHS tapes, bought by 25% of shoppers, Walkmans (22%) and Etch-a-Sketch (19%).

Retro-spective shopping

More than a fifth of those surveyed said they missed iconic TV commercials in the 1990s, with buying through catalogues and infomercials missed by the same proportion (22%). Not far behind was the iconic TV jingle – missed by 16% of respondents.

The stores and malls of the 1990s were a nostalgic experience – with 22% saying they would revisit those times, but the same percentage said they would go back to shopping in the 1980s if they could.

Business expert Kate Hardcastle, MBE, said: “More consumers than ever are turning to vintage items for value for money, as well as a sense of familiarity, nostalgia, and the unique aesthetic that they offer.

“TV series like Stranger Things have catalysed this, fueling retro as a recognised trending pop culture. And it’s not just vintage items that consumers are craving, but the shopping experiences too. We are in the midst of a retail evolution with genuine demand for experiential shopping, great customer service and a sense of discovery that only physical stores can deliver.”

Vintage is ageless in nostalgia and influence

Vintage buying was common across all age groups, the survey found, with 58% of shoppers aged 25 to 34 saying they buy vintage and 48% of 35 to 44 year-olds. A quarter of over 55s also said they embraced vintage buying.

Nimesh Shah, Marketing Director at Feel Good Contacts, said: “Vintage is on demand now more than ever; everyone is still after a simple and traditional shopping experience.

“Emarsys' data and insights have shown us that apart from price, convenience is an important factor when shopping online, where new and existing customers need their journeys to be quick and easy.

“By personalising and segmenting to the individual user, we’re able to drive more sales and acquire new customers. As technology is continuously changing, it’s important we adapt and make sure we provide a seamless experience for all our users.”