Grocery shopping frequency declines as pandemic concerns remain high

Marianne Wilson
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Consumers are shopping for groceries less but spending more than they did pre-pandemic.

That’s according to the ninth COVID-19 grocery shopper research report from Acosta, which found that shopping once a week has declined 20% since the pandemic began, from 67% of shoppers to 47% of shoppers.

The report also found that shoppers’ concerns about COVID-19 remain high. About half of shoppers are just as concerned about the pandemic as they were at the start, and many have become more concerned recently, including 44% of shoppers in the South, where cases are rising. (Acosta’s research was gathered via online between June 26 and July 1, 2020.)

In addition, three-quarters of shoppers are worried that a second wave could lead to another shutdown. And despite many non-essential businesses reopening, only 37% of shoppers have gone to retail shops, 30% to hair/nail salons and 27% to dine-in restaurants,

In other findings from the report: 

• When looking at total household spending, 50% of shoppers are spending more on groceries than they were pre-COVID. Conversely, 66% of shoppers are spending less on eating out than they did pre-pandemic.

• Of shoppers spending more on groceries, 59% cited eating at home more as their reason, 52% cited higher prices and 50% cited stocking up more.

• Shopping less frequently has increased since the pandemic began, with 27% of shoppers now going to the grocery store two to three times a month and 26% going once a month or less.

“Shopping frequency has drastically declined since March, and with three-quarters of shoppers fearing another shutdown due to the second wave of the virus, shoppers will continue to eat at home for the foreseeable future,” said Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta. “We expect the trends of stocking up and spending more on groceries to remain popular.”

Acosta’s recommendations for retailers are below.
• Retailers should make meal prep easy for shoppers with cross-department meal solutions, heat-and-serve meal kits and bundle pricing for meal components.

• Retailers can promote shopper engagement through recipe contests and staycation/picnic photo submissions in exchange for loyalty points.

• Retailers should leverage digital marketing to optimize reach and relevancy to all shoppers.