You’ve heard it many times before. After 18 months of lockdowns, social distancing and other restrictions, people are eager to go back into the physical world again. What’s changed is that before heading out, consumers are now checking online to make sure the business they’re headed to has what they want and is going to be open.
According to the 2021 August Global Insights released by Think With Google, online queries about in-store shopping have never been hotter.
Specifically, searches for “open now near me” have leapt globally by over 200% year over year, and are often paired and preceded by other terms including restaurants, fast food, pharmacy and more.
Unsurprisingly, the report cites big gains in a number of similar inquiries, particularly those related to hours of business given the volume of establishments that have curtailed their hours of operation over the past year, whether voluntarily or via regulation or government mandate. Web searches for “open 24 hours near me” have grown globally by over 80% while searches for “shop near me open now” have grown globally by over 40%.
There also has been double-digit and triple-digit annual growth in searches having to do with live events, return to school and office, and taking care of health, according to the report.
Digital Experiences and Daily Lives
The big takeaway from all this search trend data is that past 15 months have changed us. These online searches have been a force multiplier for the rise of a ConnectedEconomy ecosystem in which consumers’ digital experiences are more seamlessly and deeply integrated into their daily lives, PYMNTS found in its recent study, How Consumers Live In The ConnectedEconomy.
One example is the search data reported by Think With Google. With uncertainty of what’s open near people, people who are excited about returning to the physical world are turning to Google, which can let them know what is open and save them a trip.
Similarly, PYMNTS reports, segments of the economy that have historically operated to a large extent in silos, like brick-and-mortar retail, payment processing and delivery services, are now deeply integrated.
Consumers, too, are engaged online. Today, 92% of U.S. consumers have placed an order online, 60% consider it a problem that their personal information is scattered online and 30% are highly connected in multiple pillars of their lives.
Another PYMNTS study, The Digital Shift: Consumer Trust, found that 85% of consumers say trust is very or extremely important when deciding where to shop, 46% now use contactless payment methods and 35% would like to use voice assistants to order lunch.
The growth of digital tools and infrastructure is giving rise to a new connected economy. Seventy-three million highly connected consumers are pioneering the path to a future where engagement is not only digital, it is interconnected.
As PYMNTS reports, and the Google data supports, digital technology is transforming the essential parts of the lives of U.S. consumers — including their search for things to do when returning to the physical world.