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Study: Online channel likely to benefit long-term from COVID-19

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It has only been a few weeks, but the COVID-19 pandemic is already making many consumers more likely to shop online.

According to “The Early Effects of COVID-19 On Online Shopping,” a new study of nearly 1,200 U.S. consumers from RSR Research and Yottaa, 90% of respondents are hesitant to shop in-store due to coronavirus (COVID-19). A majority of respondents will either not shop in-store at all or will only do so if “absolutely necessary.”

Nearly all (94%) of respondents stated online shopping will be an important activity for them during the coronavirus crisis. More than four in 10 (45%) said online shopping will be a “necessity” for them to live their daily lives during the crisis.

A vast majority (93%) of respondents said they expect to shop online either more (60%) or at the same level (33%) as they did before the outbreak. The top three things respondents felt would make shopping online more difficult during the crisis were unavailable inventory; no free shipping option; and slow website.

Looking at some third-party online delivery providers, respondents expect to double their use of online food delivery services such as Grubhub, Uber Eats, Instacart, and Peapod due to coronavirus. Surprisingly, only 42% of respondents felt confident that Amazon could get their online orders delivered on time.

“The results of our consumer survey clearly indicate that even at a time when the vast majority of US inhabitants are not infected with coronavirus, their sense of responsibility to stop the unwitting spread of the disease is keeping them at home – causing their shopping behaviors to be drastically affected,” said Steve Rowen, managing partner, Retail Systems Research (RSR). “With most experts predicting the effects of this outbreak to continue for several months, it can clearly be expected that the online shopping trends exposed in this research will only increase in the days and weeks to come. As a result, store-based retailers are in for a long and difficult journey.”

RSR Research conducted the survey of nearly 1,200 American consumers ages 18 and up in the final days of March 2020.

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