Survey: Consumer COVID-19 concerns on the decline

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Woman holding shopping bags

A new study contains some good news for brick-and-mortar retailers.

According to a survey of more than 18,000 consumers from shopping rewards app Shopkick, about three-quarters (73%) of respondents say they feel equally or less concerned about COVID-19 than in May. And in a May Shopkick survey, 82% of respondents said the pandemic was affecting how they shop and now that statistic has dropped to 70%. 

Almost all (94%) respondents say that a member of their household is shopping in-store at least once a week, with 52% reporting multiple in-person trips per week. When asked to compare frequency of store visits with the prior month, 12% of respondents are visiting stores more often, more than double the 5% who said so in May, 44% are visiting stores about as often (versus 21% the prior month), and 44% are visiting stores less often (versus 73% the prior month).

The demand for essential items like toilet paper, disinfectants, bottled water and canned goods remains high, with 95% of respondents continuing to notice that certain brands and items have sold out over the past month. Furthermore, 76% of respondents (a significant increase from 56% in May) have noticed price increases on these essentials. 

However, while 70% of consumers surveyed live in areas where non-essential retailers have reopened, 68% have not visited those stores yet. Regardless of whether they have visited any stores, 67% of respondents in those areas say they will make most of their non-essential purchases in-store, rather than online. 

The reasons vary, but 57% of respondents who have not visited reopened non-essential retailers in their area say it is because they have not yet felt the need. Other reasons include concern that other shoppers will not take safety precautions (38%), concern that retailers will be too crowded (27%), concern that retailers will not enforce safety precautions (22%), choosing instead to make non-essential purchases online (22%), and concern there will be long lines to enter or restrictions on the number of shoppers allowed in a store at once (16%). Of those who have not yet visited any reopened non-essential retailers in their area, 45% say they will likely wait more than one month before visiting.

Most consumers who have visited reopened retailers say they shopped in apparel, shoe and accessory stores (52%). The second most-visited retailers are home improvement stores (40%), followed by beauty and grooming stores (31%), home decor stores (25%), book and toy stores (21%), pet stores (18%), sporting goods stores (11%), electronics stores (9%), and wellness and fitness stores (7%). 

Looking ahead, the survey found that although 48% of respondents say they are shopping online more frequently than one month prior, 65% still plan to make most of their summer purchases in-store. Consumers say they plan to spend most of their summer shopping budget on groceries (41%), home improvement projects (27%), vacations (10%), recreation and outdoor activities (7%), clothing and apparel (6%), back-to-school preparations (4%), and summer camps (1%).