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Get Ready for Retail Stockpiling, Round 2

Get Ready for Retail Stockpiling, Round Two
Retailers should be ready for consumers wanting to again stockpile products because of the pandemic.

Here we go again — that pretty much sums up the attitude of shoppers about the pandemic, an attitude that could lead consumers to stock up grocery items again, and dampen the holiday shopping season.

New Acosta research finds that 53% of shoppers plan to stock up if another pandemic shutdown occurs. The findings come from Acosta's 10th and final round of its COVID-19 shopper insight series, with data gathered via online surveys conducted between July 10 and 16.

More specifically, the new research found that:

  • 38% of consumers stocked up at the beginning of the pandemic and would do so again with a new shutdown.
  • 15% of consumers did not stock up earlier this year when the outbreak started but would do so if there is a new shutdown.
  • 17% stocked up at the beginning of the outbreak but will refrain from doing so again.
  • 24% didn’t stock up last time and have no plans of starting.

The main message from all that, according to Acosta?

Retailers should prepare.

"As COVID cases continue to rise, most shoppers believe we're headed for another shutdown and plan to respond accordingly, so retailers should be prepared for a new surge in stocking up," said Darian Pickett, CEO of North American sales at Acosta. "The pandemic will also significantly impact back-to-school shopping this year, and retailers will need to adapt to parents' new priorities and shopping preferences. Hand sanitizer, masks and gloves will be the most in-demand items, in addition to basic school supplies, and many will opt for online shopping and delivery options."

Indeed, this year’s hot back-to-school item is hand sanitizer, already in very short supply according to mounting complaints from teachers as some school districts open their doors. Of the consumers surveyed, 66% of them plan to buy hand sanitizer in preparation for the new school year. That beats such products as school supplies (64%) and masks and gloves (60%).

As for how consumers will shop, 33% of them plan to buy products online, 23% will rely more on deliveries and 20% of them plan fewer visits to physical stores.

This year of the pandemic might be dragging on for most people, with weeks feeling like months, but the fact is that the 2020 holiday shopping season is approaching. Consumer attitudes about the holidays are certain to impact retailers in the all-important fourth quarter. Acosta found that 43% of consumers worry that the pandemic will soil holiday celebrations, while 23% expect the holidays to be pretty much business as usual, with most of the rest — 27% — unable to even think that far ahead given all the current pandemic stress.

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