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NPD: Consumers are shopping less, but spending more per visit

Consumers spending per shopping visit has risen since March 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the average amount U.S. consumers spend on each shopping occasion, both online and in-store.

That’s according to a report from The NPD Group which found that in each of the 12 months since March 2020, the average amount spent per shopping occasion has been between 13% and 29% higher than the same month in the prior year. The new spending levels have held relatively steady since March 2021.

At the same time, the number of shopping visits per week still falls short of 2019 levels. This indicates that the sales lift is primarily caused by an increase in stock-up purchasing behavior, NPD said.

“Fewer shopping trips to limit in-person contact at retail stores, combined with supply-chain challenges making fewer products available, means consumers are more willing to spend more now to get the products they need,” said Marshal Cohen, retail chief industry advisor for NPD. “This dynamic alters the traditional cadence of product seasonality and creates less price sensitivity.”

[Read More: NPD: Changes in consumer spend have just started]

Across the combined in-store and online landscape, grocery and drug stores, warehouse clubs, hardware and farm stores, and mass merchants have enjoyed the strongest growth in spending per-shopping occasion since the start of the pandemic. The amount spent per trip through July of this year at each channel averaged at least 20% higher than 2019 levels. But their overall gains still pale in comparison to pure-play online retailers which have increased shopping visits 49% compared to 2019.

“Leading into the holiday shopping season, we can expect to see consumers spending more for better products, with fewer items under the tree,” added Cohen. “The evolving pandemic lifestyle is already influencing what consumers are buying. Layer on reduced in-store shopping frequency, and the continued strength of online shopping, and the critical role of impulse shopping will remain muffled.”

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