As states loosen restrictions and retail showing signs of a recovery, there are changes to consumer behavior that could have potentially long-lasting ramifications.
That’s according to foot traffic analytics firm, Placer.ai, whose recent report analyzed six leading grocery store retailers — Albertsons, Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, Kroger, Publix and Trader Joe’s — and Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club. In a big change, Placer.ai found that shopping has shifted away from the weekends and increased Monday through Thursday. The change was felt across the board with only two discrepancies: Whole Foods Market had a slight Sunday increase and BJ’s had a slight Friday jump.
“The impact of this change is significant, as it shows that when given the opportunity, shoppers will prefer to find off-peak times to do their shopping, something that might also help grocers themselves,” stated Ethan Chernofsky, VP, marketing, Placer.ai. “With the potential for more flexible working hours, the midweek grocery spike is a trend that could hold.”
In another change, shopping has clearly shifted to the morning, between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Eight retailers saw dramatic increases in the percentage of visits taking place between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Levels from 11 am through 4 p.m. stayed fairly level, with the evening (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.) seeing the biggest decrease. Wegmans, for example, showed a massive jump in morning traffic with over double the percentage of visits coming between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., and nearly double between 8a.m. and 9 a.m.
In other findings:
• Consumers are now more “mission-driven” as cross-shopping declines.
“The clear indication here is that shoppers are more focused on getting as much done as possible with every visit,” Chernofsky stated. “This gives added strength to traditional grocers, wholesalers and big-box retailers and will push more niche grocers to more effectively target core audiences.”
• All but one brand saw a significant increase in the length of the average visit. Wegmans and Trader Joe’s led the way with increases of 11.9% and 9.1% respectively.
According to Placer.ai, the changes in consumer behavior during the pandemic provide a glimpse into what shopping could look like if work/life splits were given blurrier lines.
The big remaining question is whether greater levels of flexibility will last beyond the crisis,” Chernofsky said. “If so, significant changes to shopping patterns and therefore, grocery and wholesale performance, could be on the horizon.”