Survey: COVID-19 puts a dent in impulse purchases

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Customers have become less likely to make impulse purchases since the outbreak of COVID-19.

According to a new survey of U.S. consumers from digital savings platform, three in 10 (31%) respondents say that since the start of the pandemic, they have become more likely to choose less expensive products or look for a good value. Meanwhile, close to half (47%) say they are less likely to make impulse purchases, and 48% say they are less likely to shop for fun.

However, two-thirds of respondents say they’re keeping their spending the same or increasing it, compared to pre-pandemic levels. And 65% say they’ll be spending on themselves or on hobbies at the same or greater levels, compared to before the pandemic. 

One in five (19%) respondents actually plan to increase their spending in the next 90 days, while six in 10 (59%) say their spending over the next three months will stay the same. However, 22% say they plan to curb their spending over the next 90 days, and 31% say they plan to increase their savings.

The survey also found that:
•    Respondents plan to conduct 53% of their shopping in stores and 47% online.

•    Since the start of COVID-19, 45% of respondents have shopped for groceries online, 40% have used food/meal delivery services, and 38% have used curbside pickup. Almost three in 10 respondents (28%) say they will use curbside pickup less frequently after the pandemic.

•    Looking ahead to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduation, the survey finds that Mother’s Day will draw the most spending, with 53% of respondents saying they plan to make purchases for it. Meanwhile, 40% plan to spend for Father’s Day and 29% plan to spend money on high school and college graduates.

•    Free shipping has the greatest impact on which stores consumers choose (64%), followed by coupons and discounts (57%).

•    About half (49%) of respondents say already being enrolled in a retailer’s membership program/service motivates them to shop at that retailer. 

•    When asked about their shopping drivers, the largest contingent (42%) of respondents described themselves as deal hunters who shop with a “price first” mentality and use the best deal to determine which store wins their business. Another 30% of respondents said they favor convenience, choosing stores and brands that are easily accessible. Other shopping drivers included customer service experience (16%).

•     One-third (34%) of respondents are “motivated” or “very motivated” to shop at a small or locally-owned store. Meanwhile, 24% say they find a company’s commitment to social causes to be motivating, and 22% are motivated to shop with minority-owned businesses and brands.

Survey insights come from 552 U.S. adults age 18 and up.