(BPT) - More than a year after the pandemic began, Americans are realizing that almost every facet of life has changed. Suddenly their linear, analog world with a digital dabble has become a full-blown digital whirlwind. And that's especially true when it comes to how they handle money.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way consumers shop - from the products they're buying to the ways they're paying for them. It's made everyone revise their shopping habits and many of these trends appear here to stay. One obvious change is the explosion of online shopping, but there's also been a focus on shopping local.
When it comes to consumer spending, the National Retail Association's recent 2021 forecast anticipates retail sales to grow between 6.5 and 8.2 percent as more people get vaccinated and the economy reopens. And, as people venture back into brick-and-mortar stores in their communities, finance journalist Vera Gibbons says consumers can feel confident as they return.
'Americans are excited to return to brick-and-mortar stores but many are already looking for touch-free payment options to avoid handling cash, touching keypads and signing receipts at checkout,' Gibbons said. 'We saw this trend really take off during the pandemic and this is now the preferred payment method for many businesses and their customers. So the idea of paying with touch-free options like QR codes has moved to the forefront as a safe, secure solution when shopping in-store.'
In fact, research from PayPal shows that 57 percent of consumers surveyed said merchants' digital payment offerings impact their willingness to shop in their stores. And more than a third said they would not buy from merchants at all if QR code-enabled payments were unavailable.
'PayPal and Venmo QR Codes are convenient, easy, touch-free payment options that allow for a sense of security, and enable consumers to shop safely and with ease,' Gibbons said. 'They incorporate the safety, security and convenience of using PayPal and Venmo in-person and enables ongoing social distancing requirements and safety preferences for in-person commerce.'
Purchasing with QR codes from companies like PayPal and Venmo allow customers flexibility when it comes to their preferred method of payment at checkout.
'You can choose to pay how you want, using stored debit or credit cards, bank accounts or funds from your PayPal Cash Plus Account. Similarly for Venmo QR codes, customers can pay using their stored debit or credit cards, bank account or funds from their balance with Venmo,' Gibbons said. 'Plus there's no tech to touch - just aim your own smartphone camera at the QR code when presented at checkout or show your code to the cashier at participating retailers. The process is very easy and exceptionally convenient.'
After a year of doing without vacation travel, concerts, dining out, etc., many may be itching to splurge, but the experts say this is the time to be savvy, not emotional, while shopping.
'There's a lot of optimism going forward in terms of economic growth, but don't go too crazy and go on a spending binge. It might make you feel good to buy yourself a little something or two or three, but you'll likely regret it when the credit card bill arrives,' Gibbons said. 'And more than ever, comparison shopping is key. Prices have probably shifted on all of your favorites as a result of rising demand, diminishing supplies, or both! So it's never been more important that you check prices and comparison shop so you can find the best deals.'
For more information on making purchases safely using QR codes, visit www.paypal.com.