Survey: COVID-19 shifts grocery shopping habits

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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man with grocery cart wearing mask

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting how, when and where customers shop for groceries.

A recent survey of 2,012 U.S. consumers from C&R Research indicates that respondents’ grocery delivery has increased 3.5 times and online/Amazon use has increased 2.5 times. Concurrently, respondents took an average of 2.3 weekly trips to the grocery store before the COVID-19 pandemic and are averaging one weekly trip to the grocery store since the pandemic. 

Seventy-three percent of respondents are making fewer trips to the physical grocery store. Timing of brick-and-mortar grocery shopping trips has also changed. 

Forty-six percent of respondents are shopping off-hours, while 30% are using grocery delivery and 17% are using more restaurant delivery. 

Delving deeper into grocery delivery habits during the pandemic, the survey found that 44% of respondents said they are using more restaurant, meal-kit or grocery delivery services and apps. Among grocery delivery apps, the most popular are Amazon Fresh (31%), Walmart Delivery (25%), and Instacart (24%). Considering the convenience factor, 27% of respondents said they plan to continue to use grocery delivery apps once the pandemic is over and life returns to a state of normalcy.  

Respondents are also stocking up on items as 46% said the pandemic has led them to buy items in bulk, although 89% believe limits should be placed on items. Overall, 76% of respondents said they do not go out of their way to find their favorite brands. And when it comes to comparison shopping, consumers are basically split on looking for deals (48%) and buying “whatever is available” (52%). 

Other interesting findings include:

•    Fifty percent of respondents have witnessed price gouging and 48% are paying more for grocery items. Average weekly grocery spend has risen 16% to $184 from $159 pre-pandemic. 
•    Sixty percent of respondents are fearful to shop at a grocery store, with 45% disinfecting groceries when they bring them home.
•    Fifty percent of respondents believe grocery stores are not doing enough to protect employees from coronavirus and 35% believe grocery stores are not doing enough to protect customers.