What's Next For Pantry Loading: Exclusive Research

Insights from Inmar Intelligence reveal some surprising shopper behaviors as retailers brace for new supply chain challenges
  What's Next For Pantry Loading: Exclusive Research
Pantry loading appears to be back, according to a July 30th survey by Inmar Intelligence, although it is likely to be less pronounced than at the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.

Lingering supply chain challenges and a resurgence of COVID-19 infection rates mean retailers should be ready for a new wave of pantry loading, according a survey from Inmar Intelligence.

The firm surveyed 1,000 people on July 30, three days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged all Americans to resume wearing facial coverings in response to an increase in cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Given the timing of the research, Inmar discovered that nearly 70% of those surveyed said they were considering replenishing an existing stockpile.

The survey also uncovered, unsurprisingly so, that a key driver of shoppers' decision to create and/or maintain a stockpile was media coverage. Half of those surveyed said media coverage of current events such as COVID-19, wildfires, shootings, political events and gas prices, prompted their decision to create and/or maintain a stockpile. Another 35% said media coverage somewhat influenced stockpiling behavior.

Other highlights of the timely research showed:

  • Lingering supply chain challenges mean 75% of those surveyed said they see product shortages while shopping.
  • 46% of those surveyed said they have created a stockpile of products as a result of COVID-19.
  • Motivations for stockpiling involve family and friends. Nearly 65% of those who created a stockpile did so based on the recommendation of a family member compared to 52% who were influenced by friends. Social media played a role too, mentioned by 35% as an influencer of pantry loading.
  • Looking specifically at the Delta variant and surge in positive cases, 69% said, “yes,” when asked if they were, “considering replenishing an existing stockpile as the Delta variant surges.”

The last point is noteworthy because among those who haven’t previously created a stockpile, it appears the Delta variant will prompt some to do so. While 55% said they wouldn’t, 12% of those who hadn’t previously created a stockpile planned to do so and 33% said they weren’t sure.

Lastly, the motivating factors for creating a stockpile now, among consumers who hadn’t done so previously, involve supply chain issues. Roughly 31% of those surveyed said they were considering a stockpile because they were concerned products won’t be in stock when they are needed. Another 28% were concerned about returning to stores.

While some degree of pantry loading seems likely based on Inmar’s insights, it also seems less likely to be as pronounced as last March and April when shoppers' rampant spending left store shelves depleted. One of the reasons why is that 60% of those surveyed said they still have products stockpiled as a result of COVID-19.

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