4 mins read

Remote Workers Shop Online Nearly Twice as Much

Whether it’s work from home, remote work or hybrid work, by any name these models almost all equate to losses for small, physical retailers in business districts.

Those most affected are the coffee shops, lunch spots, hair and nail salons, pharmacies and other businesses that have historically made their money on office workers.

But while the changing urban landscape and office property story continues to unfold now three years on from the original COVID jolt, new PYMNTS data suggests this shift also holds benefits for the digital corner of the retail sector.

According to the study, “How The World Does Digital: Different Paths To Digital Transformation,” PYMNTS found that while 44% of consumers reported working online remotely — up from 43% in Q2 2022 and a new high — 73% of this highly connected cohort shopped online for retail goods and 63% also purchased groceries online.

remote work effect

That’s good news for the connected economy, but not so much for retail shops in downtown office districts that are still largely devoid of workers much of the time.

PYMNTS also analyzed changes to the work scene in “12 Months Of The ConnectedEconomy,” finding that while 53% of respondents worked remotely or in a hybrid work environment in November 2021, by the end of the year, 58% of consumers worked in a digital-only or hybrid work environment. The net result: 8 million more consumers were part of the remote workforce in November 2022 than just one year earlier.

hybrid work model

See the report: 12 Months Of The Connected Economy

While the pressure felt by downtown business districts and suburban office parks has been well-established since the onset of COVID, the belief that return-to-work orders were coming has been repeatedly deferred. This pushback not only erodes the remaining power of retailers and restaurants to ride it out, but also allows remote workers to get more deeply entrenched in their new routines, from breakfast to commuting to shopping, delivery and more.

Back to Office Directives May Help

The latest in the “get back to the office” movement has come from Disney’s newly reappointed CEO, Bob Iger reportedly said this week that “hybrid employees must return to corporate offices four days a week starting March 1,” according to an internal email.

Whether other large employers follow suit remains to be seen, as does the actual success of the company has in enforcing the order.

This, as companies including Goldman Sachs, Apple and Amazon have all faced mixed receptions to their mandates.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told workers to show up for a minimum of three days a week, but a worker group calling itself “Apple Together” pushed back, saying in a letter to Cook, “We believe that Apple should encourage, not prohibit, flexible work to build a more diverse and successful company where we can feel comfortable to ‘think different’ together.”

Amazon ditched its plan to drive workers back to HQ, with CEO Andy Jassy saying, “At a company of our size, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to how every team works best.”

PYMNTS measured the extent and impact of the work-from-home trend in “The ConnectedEconomy Monthly Report: The Work-From-Anywhere Summer,” finding that remote work is a boon to the digital connected economy.

Per that report, 11% of all workers “checked in on work online remotely every day while on vacation in July, up 16% since April and up 103% compared to November 2021. In total, 14 million more consumers engaged in work-related digital activities daily in July 2022 than in November 2021. Remote work also spiked in recent months, and 16% of employees worked online remotely daily from somewhere other than their homes in July — roughly 26 million more consumers than were doing so in November.”

top activities consumers have altered

Read: The ConnectedEconomy Monthly Report: The Work-From-Anywhere Summer