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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Dima Volovik

EVP of Product and Engineering

Dima Volovik is the EVP of Product and Engineering at Trax Retail — Shopkick.

Dima Volovik is the accomplished product and engineering leader who led teams to deliver innovative and commercially successful e-commerce products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions for Amazon, Comcast, Fandango, and Universal Music. Before joining Trax, Dima was the Director at Amazon, where he led product development and Engineering for Amazon Appstore and Amazon Prime Video, CTO at Fandango, and Paciolan, head of technology at Golf Channel/Golf Now, and Global VP of Direct to Consumer Technology at Universal Music Group. Dima’s expertise includes developing consumer products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions.

Dima grew up in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he received his MS in Electrical Engineering from Azerbaijan Oil Academy, and he currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with his family.