Acosta: Majority of consumers have changed grocery shopping habits amid COVID-19

Marianne Wilson
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The COVID-19 pandemic is driving more consumers to something that had previously been slow to catch on: online grocery ordering.
A new report from consumer packaged goods sales and marketing agency Acosta found that 28% of online grocery shoppers made their first-ever online grocery order in March due to the virus. Also, many consumers who had previously ordered groceries online reported ordering more frequently: Of the 36% of shoppers who ordered groceries online for store pick-up, 33% reported making more orders in March. And of the 38% who ordered groceries online for home delivery, 37% reported making more orders in March.

In the survey, which was conducted at the end of March, 65% of respondents reporting they have changed their shopping habits due to COVID-19. That’s up from just 23% in Acosta’s previous survey, which was conducted early on in the crisis. 

The report, gathered via online surveys between March 20 and 29, provides insight into shoppers’ changing habits, as well as recommendations for retailers and brands, including:
•  When comparing channel shopping behaviors, many shoppers reported going to stores less frequently, especially mass merchandisers. Among those who shopped at a mass merchandiser in March, 47% reported making fewer trips.

•  Stocking up is becoming more commonplace. More shoppers indicated purchasing pantry food items in addition to cleaning items/paper products compared to Acosta’s previous survey. About half of U.S. shoppers said they made an additional stock-up grocery trip in the past week.

•  Eighty-eight percent of shoppers experienced out-of-stocks, and of those shoppers, 47% found a substitute for half or more of their unavailable items.

Acosta advised retailers to continue to implement solutions that reduce the risk of shopper and employee transmission of the virus, such as aisle flow solutions and expanded cashier-less checkout options.

Retailers should expand online ordering fulfillment and pick-up/delivery time slots in order to meet the needs of new e-commerce shoppers who prefer not to shop in the store, the company said.