Americans’ shopping habits continue to evolve amid the COVID-19 crisis.
New updates and stricter regulations paired with growing concerns about the virus led to drastic changes in consumer shopping behavior in just a matter of weeks, according to a new survey by Shopkick. After comparing the new data with two previous surveys – the first in mid-March and the other in early April — the shopping rewards app found key differences in consumer behavior related to in-store shopping, spending on non-essential items, health precautions and more.
In this latest study, Shopkick surveyed more than 20,000 consumers across the country between April 16-20, to gain insights into how consumer behavior has changed as the COVID-19 situation evolves. (Since the most recent survey was conducted, some states have begun to lift restrictions and stores have reopened.)
The key findings of the Shopkick survey are below.
• Consumers are frequenting new retailers more often. Consumers remain open to trying new brands and products, with more taking advantage of varied inventory at different types of retailers.
The number of consumers visiting a wider range of store types increased in the latest survey, with a higher percentage saying they were shopping in grocery stores (77% in April, 72% in March), big-box retailers (72% in April, 69% in March), drug stores (45% in April, 42% in March), dollar stores (35% in April, 32% in March), club stores (29% in April, 27% in March) and convenience stores (20% in April, 19% in March).
• Consumers are spending less on non-essential purchases. In March, slightly more than half of consumers said they were spending less on non-essential purchases (52%). Now, that number has increased to 67%.
• Younger shoppers are still stocking up. America’s youngest consumers are continuing to fill their shopping carts with essential items. Most Gen Zers (67%) and millennials (58%) said they were still stocking up this month, compared to less than half of Gen Xers (49%) and boomers (42%).
• Growing concerns are changing shopping behavior. In the March survey, 76% of consumers said concerns about the virus were affecting their shopping habits. Now, with national stay-at-home orders in effect and people having a much clearer understanding of how the virus spreads, that number has jumped to 82%, with 45% of consumers also saying they were more concerned.
• Americans are only braving stores once a week. In the March survey, 50% of consumers said they averaged one trip to the store per week. Now, with social distancing orders in effect across the country, that number has increased to 60%, with a near 10% drop in more frequent shopping trips across the board.
• Toilet paper is still out of stock. Americans are still struggling to find essential items on store shelves, with 64% reporting these items as sold out or low-in-stock. Consumers said the most out-of-stock essentials included toilet paper (91%), cleaning supplies (81%), paper towels (71%) and medical items like masks and gloves (59%).
Meanwhile, other essentials like soups and canned goods, baby wipes, pasta, painkillers and medicine and pet supplies appeared to be making their way back to shelves.
Similar data was uncovered by Trax, parent company of Shopkick. The global provider of computer vision solutions and analytics for retail looked at two weeks of shelf inventory data (March 30 – April 10) from more than 300 stores across a variety of U.S. retailers. Trax processed over 50,000 images of shelves carrying 10 essential product categories to understand the reality of shelf availability in store.
This broad picture of actual product availability depicts similar findings to what consumers reported seeing totally out-of-stock and low-in-stock items included toilet paper (92%), cleaning supplies (53%) and baby wipes (46%). Meanwhile, painkillers, pasta, soups and pet supplies were mostly in-stock.
“As the realities of COVID-19 sink in and we get a better grasp on how to combat the virus, consumers will continue to change their shopping behaviors to match,” said Dave Fisch, general manager of Shopkick. “We have already seen ebbs and flows in actual purchasing behavior as Americans figure out how to navigate the situation for themselves and their families. We hope that by providing the most up-to-date data, we can help paint the full picture of what retailers and consumers are experiencing during these rapidly changing times.”