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08/24/2021

Pandemic Shopping Behaviors Becoming Entrenched: New Report

Research from Acosta confirms shift to online buying and preferences for delivery and pickup
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Pandemic Shopping Behaviors Becoming Entrenched: New Report
According to Acosta's research, about 45% of consumers increased their online grocery shopping and reduced trips to traditional CPG channels since pre-pandemic.

While health experts track COVID-19 cases around the world, other experts are tracking the impact of the virus on human behavior, including the way people shop for food and household goods. Sales and marketing service provider Acosta has been gauging shopper insights throughout the pandemic and is out with its latest report, “COVID-19 Shopper Insights: Which Habits Are Sticking?"

It can be hard to zero in on an ever-moving target like the COVID-19 situation, but Acosta gleaned information consistently showing that shoppers are shifting their buying habits. According to the latest research, about 45% of consumers have increased their use of online shopping, with 40% of online shoppers reporting that they use online pickup and 46% using online delivery more than they did before the pandemic. Almost a third – 30% – of online shoppers say they are shopping less often at grocery stores.

Acosta’s insights also indicate that shoppers are aware of out-of-stock items that are often a ripple effect of the pandemic: 52% of in-store shoppers said they “sometimes” encounter out-of-stock items versus 42% of online shoppers, and 14% of in-store shoppers “often” contend with out-of-stocks compared to 9% of online shoppers.

Acosta broke down consumers’ shifting shopping habits by demographic, noting that Gen Z and Millennials tend to use their phone more often than Gen Z and Baby Boomer shoppers to place online orders. A majority of shoppers across the board, though, order via their computer or tablets.

According to Colin Stewart, EVP, business intelligence, for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta, the pandemic has accelerated trends that were in at least somewhat in play before March 2020. "While many believe we're headed towards normalcy, it is highly likely that certain pandemic-related shopping habits, particularly consumers' reliance on e-commerce, are here to stay,” he declared. “Shoppers have become accustomed to ordering groceries online or through subscription services, with contact-free pickup or delivery options. As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, these grocery shopping channels will remain significant, as will consumers' increasing focus on product availability, low prices and promotions, whether they are shopping in-store or online."

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