Shoppers Praise Grocers’ Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
U.S. grocery shoppers are highly concerned about the coronavirus pandemic. The Hartman Group/FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends COVID-19 Tracker report from the first wave of research (March 21-26, 2020) finds that American consumers express a high degree of concern about the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, with 92% concerned and 69% ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned. The vast majority of consumers (88%) also feel their lives have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, with 63% saying their lives have been extremely or very disrupted.
Indeed, virtually all are experiencing some mix of closures or reduced functioning of most institutions and services that make up the essence of public life — schools, workplaces, stores, restaurants and public services — and over half are affected personally by loss of income, changes in the routines and makeup of their households and restrictions on personal movement.
Concern is somewhat higher among women and among seniors 60 years or older and those who live with them. Working-age adults — whose jobs have been upended or lost and whose children are home from school or childcare — are especially likely to report a sense of major life disruption.
This overall sense of worry is heightened when it comes to grocery shopping — an activity that all households must do and that brings to consumers’ homes and bodies foods from an environment they don’t control. They worry about inventory and getting sick, though concern about getting sick from other shoppers is higher than getting sick from surfaces in the store itself. In fact, two-thirds of consumers give their primary stores high marks for their response to the outbreak, and nearly a third give the highest mark.
Their highest-priority request of stores is continued sanitation efforts, followed by finding ways to reduce shopper exposure to the store and others and keeping up strong inventory in both fresh and shelf-stables categories.
Changing Shopping Patterns: Online Sees Growth as Consumers Try to Minimize Human Contact
Perhaps the most notable change, with potentially long-lasting effects, has been consumers’ turn to online grocery shopping. While online shopping has been growing steadily over the last several years, 23% report turning to online orders more during the coronavirus pandemic, and 18% believe they now spend more online for groceries, compared to their prior grocery shopping habits. Twenty percent say they have placed an online order for groceries for the first time this past month. Online shoppers take advantage of a wide array of online delivery options being offered, including home delivery, at-store pickup and standard shipping.