Consumers Less Worried about Panic Shopping as Pandemic Drags On

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Consumers Less Worried about Panic Shopping as Pandemic Drags On

By Thad Rueter - 04/28/2020
Food and beverage anxieties take a significant dip
Shoppers have become less worried about pandemic food shortages

As pandemic panic buying subsides, consumer concerns about the availability of food, household cleaners and other consumer packaged goods (CPG) products continue to ease – even as most of those consumers worry about the economy opening too soon, according to fresh survey results from the Consumer Brands Association (CBA).

The Arlington, Va.-based trade group said that for the first time since the pandemic and social isolation kicked in, “concerns over access to every CGP category did not go up.” Take food and beverage as one shining example. As one can imagine, that CPG category stood as a top consumer concern during the earlier stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. But now, according to the CBA survey report, that concern has dropped to 61% of consumers, which is 16 points lower than it was on March 18, the peak of food and beverage concern so far during this pandemic. “The drop in concern reflects the supply chain working out many of the early kinks and stores restocking any items that were wiped out in March,” the trade group said.

You can bet legitimate supply chain concerns still exist in the world of food retailing. For example, the closing of meat processing plants because of worker illness is still an issue in the United States that looks all but certain to continue.  Even so, consumer worries about other CPG items continue to decrease, according to the CBA. That includes household cleaning products, which are in hot demand as the country as a whole awaits a flattening of the COVID-19 curve and the economic gains that would presumably follow. The new survey report found that consumer concern about the availability of those products dropped to 70% this week from 74% last week. “While that’s still a strong majority,” the report noted, “it is the first decline seen yet.”

More broadly, the trade group’s new report found that 59% of U.S. consumers “have noticed greater availability of at least some high-demand products.” Such a data point reflects the determination of the CPG industry to pull its weight through this pandemic, according to the association.

“The CPG industry is working overtime to ensure Americans have what they need to stay home and stay safe,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the CBA. “This week’s survey results demonstrate that the industry’s hard work is paying off among American consumers.”

Even so, the survey report found that those consumer are at least mildly worried, in general, that the so-called reopening of the country will happen too soon. “When asked, most Americans think the government will reopen the country in early summer, which is also the most common choice for when respondents feel it will be appropriate to lift restrictions, but by a significantly smaller margin (41% to 34%),” the trade group said. “This difference implies that many Americans think the government will move too fast to reopen.”