Survey: Consumers pivot toward e-commerce during COVID-19

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A new survey suggests consumers plan to shop online more as they visit brick-and-mortar stores less due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the COVID-19 Connected Flash Study from artificial intelligence-based consumer data platform Resonate, 86% of surveyed consumers say they are avoiding physical stores to at least a moderate extent. This includes 20% who are avoiding stores to an extremely large extent, 22% to a very large extent, 22% to a large extent, and 22% to a moderate extent. Only 14% are avoiding physical stores to less than a moderate extent, including 7% to a small extent, 3% to a very small extent, and 4% to an extremely small extent.

However, when asked about how their online retail-related behaviors will change in the next 90 days due to the coronavirus, respondents generally plan to maintain or increase e-commerce behavior. More than half (55%) of respondents will order groceries online at about the same rate, while 34% will increase online grocery orders to some extent. 

In addition, 41% will order food for takeout or delivery at about the same rate and 38% will increase food orders to some extent. When asked about general plans to purchase products online, 40% of respondents will maintain online purchase behavior and 51% will increase it to some extent.

Conversely, respondents indicated a general desire to wait before returning to dine-in restaurants. One in four plan to wait until sometime in 2021 or later, while 18% will wait until winter 2020, 28% will wait until fall 2020 and 27% will wait until summer 2020. Only 3% have plans to visit a dine-in restaurant in the short term (spring 2020).

Respondents also mostly expect it to take a while before things return to normal. When asked about when the economy will return to pre-pandemic conditions, more than half (55%) expect it to be sometime in 2021 or later. Fourteen percent said winter 2020, 18% said fall 2020, 115 said summer 2020, and only 2% said spring 2020.

And when asked when they expect their own lives to return to normal, 5% never expect that to happen and 22% think it will take more than one year. Almost one in five (19%) expect it to take seven to 12 months, 29% expect four to six months, 21% expect two to three months and only 4% think their lives will return to normal in one month or less.

Resonate’s COVID-19 Connected Flash Study was fielded between April 20 – April 26, 2020 to a total of 6,513 U.S. respondents.