Oracle: Pandemic grocery shopping habits will have long shelf life

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Consumers have been buying groceries more during the COVID-19 crisis, and don’t plan to stop when the outbreak ends.

A new Oracle Grocery Retail survey shows that 53% of respondents in the U.S. have shopped online for groceries during the pandemic, with 37% stocking up more frequently online than in-store. And few people plan to reverse course – 93% of those surveyed said they plan to shop online for groceries post-pandemic, with 74% noting they will order groceries the same amount or more as they are doing currently.

When it comes to online grocery ordering, the vast majority of respondents (72%) opt for home delivery. Another 15% collect groceries curbside and 13% pick them up inside the store.

The study also reveals that 86% of respondents explored store-owned brands and private label alternatives during the pandemic, with some of these consumers (32%) having no plans of returning to their previous preferred brands. About one-third (34%) will shop a mix of new finds and preferred brands, and 20% will go back to their preferred brands.

A significant percentage of all age groups surveyed ordered groceries online during the pandemic, with Gen X age 40-54 (72%) leading the way, followed by Gen Z age 18-24 (61%). Sixty percent of millennials age 25-39 and 30% of boomers age 55 and up also ordered groceries online during the pandemic.

Although boomers represented the lowest total overall, this age group saw a 173% increase in those who had ordered groceries during COVID-19 versus before the pandemic. Moreover, 83% of boomer respondents plan to continue ordering groceries online. Interestingly, respondents with kids were also more than twice as likely to order groceries online (82%) compared to those without children (36%).

Despite COVID-19 winter warnings, just 28% of respondents are planning to stockpile household essentials and pantry staples. Among those respondents, leading products for stockpiling include toilet paper (69%), cleaning products (69%), canned fruits and vegetables (54%), meat (50%), soup (48%), pasta (48%), and rice (46%).

With more shoppers eating at home and looking for inspiration, the survey also found that meal subscriptions increased. More than one in five (22%) respondents already had a food or meal subscription they continued, while 10% already enjoyed one food or meal subscription service and added another and 4% started a new food or meal subscription for the first time.

The Untold Insights survey, conducted on behalf of Oracle Retail, polled 521 consumers in the U.S. in September 2020 about their COVID-19 shopping habits and another 500 in November 2020 about their plans for the holiday season.