Survey: Omicron variant impacts in-store shopping

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Shoppers are wearing masks, among other precautions, in stores.

The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is affecting the shopping experience.

According to a new survey of nearly 8,500 U.S. consumers from shopping rewards app Shopkick, due to COVID-19 cases rising, 73% of consumers have noticed a shortage of retail workers while shopping in-person and longer wait times while checking out (71%). In addition, 52% of consumers said that less essential items are available.  

Despite the spike in Omicron cases, 59% consumers are taking the same number of trips to the store as they were in December 2021. And 53% are still comfortable participating in public indoor activities.

While a majority of consumers are still taking trips to the store, 73% are taking additional precautions while shopping due to the rise of Omicron. Precautions include masking (90%), using disinfectants on hands and carts (79%) and shopping at less busy times (69%).  Sixty-three percent are using self-checkout, 31% are using touchless or contactless payments to avoid exchanging cash and 7% are frequenting cashier-less stores (7%).

Other survey highlights are below.

• Consumers want retailers to take steps to protect shoppers. Seventy-one percent of respondents expect in-store safety precautions such as disinfecting carts (84%), enforcing social distancing (65%), mandating masks (72%), limiting store capacity (40%), and putting a cap on the number of essential products each shopper can purchase (37%).

• While the majority of respondents (66%) are not stocking up on essential items in preparation for another lockdown,Gen Zers are most likely to stock up (41%), compared to baby boomers (35%), millennials (35%), Gen X (34%), and the silent generation (34%).

• Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents have chosen to get fully vaccinated, with 47% have also been boosted. When asked why they decided to get vaccinated, the majority said to protect themselves (85%) and protect others around them (81%). Comparatively, 20% of respondents say they are not vaccinated and do not plan to be.

An August 2021 Shopkick survey showed consumers taking similar precautions when shopping in store due to the then-rising Delta variant of COVID-19. That survey showed that 61% of respondents were taking extra precautions when shopping in-store due to the rise of Delta.  

“As consumers continue to shop in-store, it is essential that retailers prioritize safety and implement the necessary precautions to keep shoppers’ minds at ease,” said Brittany Billings, executive VP, strategic markets & marketing at Shopkick. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been continuously forcing the world to adapt and the Omicron variant has presented new challenges for consumers and retailers alike. These survey findings further reveal the need for retailers to adopt seamless, omnichannel shopping channels that can help address the pressing issues of supply shortages and a reduced retail workforce.”