Majority of Americans Still Braving Physical Retailers Amidst COVID-19 Crisis

Consumers are spending more per shopping trip, but looking for ways to stretch their dollars.

As Americans begin to adapt to social distancing measures as a new normal amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the majority are still visiting physical retailers to pick up their essentials. In fact, consumers report grocery and big box stores as some of their top in-store shopping destinations today (72 percent and 69 percent of respondents, respectively), according to our recent survey.

Shopkick surveyed more than 26,000 consumers across the country between March 31 and April 6, 2020 to gain insights into consumers’ in-store shopping behaviors in light of the current crisis.

Key Findings (across demographics):

Shoppers are visiting a variety of physical retailers. Although most shoppers are heading to grocery stores and big box retailers to snag the essentials, they’re also taking advantage of inventory at less frequented retailers, like drug stores (42 percent), dollar stores (32 percent), club stores (27 percent) and convenience stores (20 percent).

Shopping trips are less frequent, but not because of more online shopping. Nearly 3 out of 4 consumers (72 percent) are taking shopping trips less often than before the COVID-19 outbreak, likely due to social distancing measures. However, nearly 80 percent said this isn’t due to shopping online more frequently – a trend that reflects a previous Shopkick survey finding that only one in four consumers is making more online purchases.

Consumers are spending the same or more than usual at checkout. Thirty-nine percent of consumers report spending more money per shopping trip than before the COVID-19 outbreak, while 36 percent say they’re spending about the same. Average cost per trip adds up to $51-100 (36 percent), $26-50 (30 percent), $100-200 (18 percent), $0-25 (13 percent) and more than $200 (3 percent).

As Americans navigate the current economic crisis, they want to stretch their shopping dollars. With 86 percent of people spending most of their budget on food and beverages, it makes sense that most consumers are trying to stretch their shopping dollars by eating leftovers (63 percent) or cooking budget-friendly meals (54 percent). Consumers also report using shopping rewards apps (46 percent), couponing apps (42 percent) and buying in bulk (32 percent) to save money at the register.

Consumers are opting for different brands if their preferred one is out of stock. The majority of consumers (69 percent) are purchasing different brands if their preferred one is not available, instead of not making a purchase at all (14 percent), trying to find the brand at another store (10 percent) or trying to find the brand online (3 percent). This trend also reflects previous findings that, to most (85 percent), brand names do not matter during times like these.

“It’s up to all of us to keep our community members safe during this time. Shopkick will continue to release new data in an attempt to keep retailers cognizant of consumer behavior, thus promoting the safety of employees, shoppers and their families,” said David Fisch, general manager of Shopkick. “Beyond the health and safety of our community, we’ve also got to think about costs as millions of Americans face layoffs. Retailers who can offer additional deals and coupons or tips on budget-friendly meals will be the ones shoppers want to visit.”

Get in touch for more information on our continued efforts to help our partners navigate shifting consumer behaviors during these unprecedented times.


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Apu Battan

VP of User Growth

Apu Battan is the VP 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.