JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As consumers' concern over the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, their shopping habits are continuing to shift, too.
In Acosta's third COVID-19 research report, the full-service sales and marketing agency found that trends with e-commerce continue to surge as in-store trips take a dip, and shopper priorities are beginning to shift with comfort foods edging out pantry and paper products for the first time.
"While we're still seeing new trends form week-to-week, like the prioritization of comfort foods over pantry and paper products, we're also seeing trends solidify with e-commerce continuing to surge and in-store trips continuing to decline due to growing concern," said Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta. "Our research shows that shopper concern continues to increase as weeks go by. In our first shopper survey from March 6 to March 12, concern levels averaged 6.9, and now it's risen to 8.2 out of 10. That said, we're optimistic these concerns will reverse with more than half of shoppers surveyed noting they expect their shopping habits to return to 'normal' once the pandemic is over."
Highlights of the report include:
Changing Habits & Preferences
- In line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, shoppers are making 52 percent fewer store trips.
- Online grocery ordering is continuing to surge with 51 percent of shoppers placing an order in the past four weeks ending April 7. Of online grocery shoppers, 33 percent made their first-ever online grocery order in that period, up 5 percent from the previous report.
- Shopper priorities are beginning to shift with comfort foods edging out pantry and paper products for the first time. Shoppers reported sweets, frozen pizza and salty snacks topped their shopping list for the upcoming week.
- To support local economies, shoppers also planned to buy meals from area restaurants in the upcoming week via drive-thru (38 percent), carry-out (36 percent) and delivery (24 percent).
Post-Pandemic Life Preview
- Sixty-eight percent of shoppers said it's extremely or very likely that their grocery habits will return to normal once the pandemic is over.
- Fifty-eight percent of shoppers said it's extremely or very likely they will return to the same eating out routines they had before.
- Fifty-six percent of shoppers said it's extremely or very likely that they will eat at home more than they used to for a while.
- Thirty-one percent of shoppers said it's extremely or very likely they will do more online grocery pick-up or delivery than they did before.
From its findings, Acosta offers these rules of engagement for retailers as everyone finds a new normal:
- Focus on people first, namely shoppers and staff, and ensure enhanced safety by enabling no-touch transactions, like self-checkout and Apple Pay.
- Recognize changing shopper attitudes and behaviors and adapt quickly by offering assorted comfort foods and snacks in addition to essentials, and, with staying home likely remaining strong in the months post-COVID, provide convenient shopper "solutions" centered on meals and self-care.
- Accommodate lower-income shoppers who are getting relief to buy food via stimulus checks; they may be looking to trade down and leverage promotions.
Acosta's third COVID-19 research report was gathered via online surveys using the company's proprietary shopper community between April 3 and 7. It also includes comparison data from online surveys conducted between March 6 and 12 and March 20 and 29. To access the full report, click here.
Jacksonville-based Acosta provides a range of outsourced sales, marketing and retail merchandising services throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.