PWC: COVID-19 impact may benefit grocers long-term

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture

A new survey indicates many consumers will keep stocking their pantry even once the pandemic passes.

According to a consumer sentiment survey from PwC, all respondents loaded their pantry more than normal during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes 47% who loaded slightly more than normal, 39% who loaded more than normal, and 14% who loaded substantially more than normal.

About two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they will continue to load their pantry at this level. Of those consumers, most (42%) will stop extra loading once COVID-19 is fully resolved. Another 24% will keep loading until grocery stores are consistently restocked. Almost one in five (18%) won’t stop loading their pantry, and 14% will load until shelter-in-place mandates ease. 

In other good news for grocery retailers, almost seven in 10 (69%) respondents said cooking at home has significantly increased their quality of life during the pandemic. About four in 10 (38%) said online shopping has somewhat increased their quality of life during the pandemic. 

The survey also measured how consumers will react when brick-and-mortar stores reopen. Thirty-nine percent of respondents would shop in a store if physical distancing and other safety measures were in place, 30% would shop in a store only if they needed a product immediately and couldn’t wait for an online delivery, 12% would immediately shop in a store, 10% will most likely shop in a store with online pickup, and 9% prefer shopping online and have no need to shop in a store.

In addition, the survey asked consumers if they are buying new brands even when their usual brands are available, across a range of product categories. Results include:

•    Alcoholic beverages – 54%
•    Non-alcoholic beverages – 47%
•    Fresh prepared meals – 44%
•    Personal care products – 43%
•    Perishable food – 37%
•    Non-perishable food – 36%
•    Non-food consumables – 28%