Category Partners Completes Study on Retail and Consumer Trends Relating to COVID-19
IDAHO FALLS, ID - Category Partners has once again released key consumer shopping patterns, relaying to the industry essential details about shopping behaviors, packaging preferences, and purchase priorities. According to a national study of 2,000 consumers, survey participants say their food shopping trip frequency is down, basket size is up, and fresh departments are seeing a rise in demand for packaged perishable items.
“The consumer response strongly confirms what we’ve been seeing in the syndicated supermarket scan data,” said Steve Lutz, Senior Vice President of Insights and Innovation. “Food purchase behavior to date has been linked to pantry loading and perceptions of food durability and storability. Across the board, consumers report their largest purchase increases have been in center store food products and frozen foods. But that’s just the beginning, because about 40 percent of consumers say they have also increased purchases of meat, produce, and deli items with about a third of consumers reporting they have increased usage of online food ordering.”
Cara Ammon, Senior Vice President of Research, who directed the study, noted that while food shopping behaviors have shifted quickly, there are substantial demographic variances among consumer groups.
“I think one of the more interesting findings is that younger consumers, particularly those under the age of 35, are far more likely to report major food shopping changes,” stated Ammon. “Obviously, concern with coronavirus is high among all age segments, but the reported shifts in shopping trips and altered food purchase behavior was substantially higher among younger shoppers. And, of course, younger people report much higher use of online food shopping while older consumers are more likely to have not embraced this technology even when facing the quarantine.”
According to Ammon, the survey found shoppers under the age of 35 are far more likely than older consumers to report increased pantry loading shopping trips, increased purchases of packaged versus bulk fresh foods, and increased purchases of larger-sized packages.
Lutz went on to explain that the most national retail scan data suggests consumers are now shifting beyond pantry loading and shifting toward what are likely more sustainable purchase habits.
“Scan data in early March showed consumers were literally buying everything across the total store,” said Lutz. “Now that we have four weeks of data, we can see that by the end of March, purchase patterns had largely shifted again, away from much of the pantry loading type behavior. Produce department data for the last week of March shows a dollar change of only 16 percent compared to the same week last year. Earlier in March, week-over-week dollar increases were double and triple those levels. The week ending March 28, produce dollars dropped back 18 percent from the week of March 21.”
Ammon also noted that some consumers have had to change their buying behaviors due to a recent job loss.
“Twenty percent of survey respondents aged 25-44 years old said they have changed their food shopping behavior because of a furlough or lost job,” said Ammon. “That’s a remarkable finding and doesn’t mean these people are completely out of work, as they may just be experiencing reduced hours. But it does indicate that chapter two of this virus will be the economic impacts that we are just now beginning to see at retail.”
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