Salesforce: COVID-19 affects shopping habits differently by age — and gender

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Significant generational — and gender— discrepancies exist when it comes to what type of measures consumers want to return to brick-and-mortar stores.

That’s according to U.S. results from a global survey of more than 3,500 consumers from Salesforce which found that 62% of all respondents want to see social distancing measures in stores.  By generation, baby-boomers, at 71%, were above average, followed by 61% of Gen X and 60% of millennials. But only 48% of Gen Z said they wanted in-store social distancing measures.

In addition, women have a more cautious approach towards a return to stores than men. Two-thirds (67%) of women say they would require social distancing measures, for example, compared to 56% of men. More than six in 10 (62%) of women say they’d require employees to wear PPE in order to shop in a store, compared to 53% of men.

Interestingly, older consumers are not always the most likely to require certain precautions be put in place before returning to physical stores.   When it comes to requiring PPE for customers, 50% of all respondents and a leading 57% of Gen Z respondents want to see this regulation in place before visiting a store. Baby- boomers (56%), Gen X (50%), and millennials (45%) follow.

For example, 57% of all respondents want to see required personal protective equipment (PPE) for store employees. While baby-boomers are most likely to list this requirement (65%), Gen Z (61%) and millennials (55%) come out ahead of Gen X (53%).

Forty-four percent of respondents are conducting more of their shopping online since the pandemic began. Almost seven in 10 (68%) respondents expect to buy essential goods online after COVID-19 has subsided. Millennials and Gen Z respondents (73% each) are most likely to expect this trend to last, but a majority of older shoppers, including 57% of baby boomers and 69% of Gen X, also foresee purchasing more of their staples online post-pandemic.

The study found that 62% of all respondents are shopping less in-store than before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It also examined how the pandemic has affected consumers’ usage of certain shopping methods:

•    37% use contactless delivery more, 8% use it less, 23% use it the same and 32% have never used it.
•    29% use BOPIS more, 11% use it less, 27% use it the same and 32% have never used it.
•    28% use self-checkout more, 15% use it less, 48% use it the same, and 9% have never used it.
•    27% use contactless payment more, 8% use it less, 31% use it the same and 34% have never used it.

Other findings include:

•    44% of respondents have decreased discretionary spending since the start of the pandemic.
•    20% of respondents expect to increase back-to-school spending from 2019, 48% expect to spend the same, 30% expect to spend less.
•    Only 11% of respondents expect to increase winter holiday spending from 2019, 51% expect to spend the same and 38% expect to spend less.