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Majority of Americans Changing How They Shop Due to COVID-19 Concerns

Most consumers are stocking up in-store, despite health concerns and empty aisles, according to the new Shopkick survey

As uncertainty and anxiety rise across the country due to COVID-19, Americans are doing whatever it takes to stay safe and healthy, including changing the way they shop, according to our latest survey. In fact, 76 percent of consumers are adjusting their shopping habits due to concerns about the pandemic, the survey found.

Shopkick surveyed 24,400 consumers across America between March 16 – 18, 2020 to gain insights into changing consumer behavior in light of the current health and economic crisis. The survey addressed trends, in-store health precautions, channel preferences and more.

Key Findings (across demographics):

  • Americans are stocking up on essentials.

    Nearly half (47 percent) of consumers reported stocking up on essential items, with 78 percent saying it made them feel ‘safer’. These essentials include food items and water (93 percent), toiletries (74 percent), cleaning supplies (58 percent), medicine and medical items (45 percent) and pet supplies (41 percent). To 85 percent of Americans, brand names do not matter during times like these.

  • Consumers are taking extra precautions when shopping in-store.

    Nearly 60 percent of consumers said they worried about shopping in-store. To mitigate their concerns, 85 percent said they were taking one or more additional health precautions, such as disinfecting their hands and shopping carts (92 percent), shopping at slower times (66 percent), using debit/credit cards to avoid handling cash (63 percent) and using self-checkout (59 percent).

  • Only one in four consumers is making more online purchases.

    Although most consumers are worried about shopping in-store, the majority (76 percent) said they were not shopping online more frequently. However, of those who were, 60 percent said they would continue to shop online more frequently in the future.

  • Across the country, aisles are empty.

    Nearly 100 percent of consumers noticed household essentials selling out at their usual retailer or grocery store. The essentials include toilet paper (97 percent), hand sanitizer (93 percent), disinfecting wipes (91 percent), bottled water (69 percent), medical items (64 percent) and canned goods (54 percent). In addition, 78 percent reported seeing store purchasing restrictions, such as limits on the number of specific items shoppers could buy.

  • Consumers are still finding time for fun.

    Despite the current situation, 43 percent of consumers said their spending habits on fun, non-essential purchases had not changed. Five percent even reported spending more money on these types of purchases.

Additionally, Shopkick found that consumers’ stocking-up habits differed in states with the most drastic restrictions, such as business closures, curfews and shelter-in-place policies. The results showed that residents of New York (58 percent), New Jersey (58 percent), Louisiana (55 percent), Connecticut (54 percent) and California (49 percent) were stocking up more than the average American. However, Washington residents reported lower than average rates, at 40 percent.

“With most Americans still shopping in-store, retailers need to dedicate resources toward keeping physical locations clean, essential items stocked and providing options for health precautions,” said David Fisch, general manager of Shopkick. “Right now, it is critical for retailers to have a finger on the pulse of what is most essential to consumers, especially as the situation continues to evolve.”

Get in touch with our team to learn more. We’d love to hear from you!

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Apu Battan

Head of User Growth

Apu Battan is the Head of User Growth at Shopkick.

Apu is first and foremost an analytics leader, with close to 15 years of experience in helping to make decisions through the objective lens of data. Apu has always been a strong advocate for Shopkick’s most valuable customer — the user. He is passionate about acquiring the right users for our business, delighting them with the best product experience, and growing them into loyal, high-value users in the long term. Prior to Shopkick, Apu served as an Analytics Leader at Intuit for close to six years, and at Netflix, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft before that. 

Apu holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science,  and a master’s degree in integrated manufacturing and systems engineering from North Carolina State University, Raleigh.