5 Surprising Ways Covid-19 Has Impacted Retail Shopping

5 Surprising Ways Covid-19 Has Impacted Retail Shopping

Have you been visiting the supermarket less since the pandemic hit?

Are your cupboards stocked up with essentials? Are you placing more online orders?

Consumer behaviour toward grocery shopping has certainly altered significantly in recent months. This is completely expected, given COVID-19 and the huge impact it has had on our global economy.

The priority, when the pandemic hit, was to ensure people were kept fed. But how has the pandemic shaped the future of grocery listings?


1.   Boosted Online Shopping

Which? Reports that online grocery purchases previously had a market share of around 7-8%. Since the coronavirus lockdown, this has increased to around 11.5% of all grocery sales.

Which? also noted that 37% of over-65’s have increased the amount of online shopping they do since the outbreak of Covid-19. This massive increase of online purchasing effects what, when and how people shop.

Now lockdown measures have been relaxed, can online retailers capitalise on its increased demographic of online shoppers? Also, how will high-street retailers defend their positions?


2.   Increased Shopping At Independent Stores

Which? reported that between 24-28 April, 36% of respondents had shopped at independent and convenience stores “more than usual”, since the outbreak. The Guardian reported in May that independent grocery stores like Spar, Budgens and Londis reported a 63% surge in trade.


Clearly, small independent stores have much less variety than supermarkets. The convenience-factor of local stores seems to have superseded consumer demand for variety and accelerated the existing trend to shop locally.


3.   Fewer Shopping Trips

With consumers trying to limit their chances of contracting COVID-19, it looks like the “weekly shop” is back in fashion. People have been making fewer trips to the supermarket since the coronavirus outbreak.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis commented that the number of transactions at Tesco stores in April nearly halved. Kantar also said that households made a “record low” number of trips to the supermarket in the 12 weeks to 19th April.

To encapsulate, YouGov reports that 61% of consumers say they’ve been visiting stores less frequently since lockdown. In the UK, that equates to 100 million fewer trips.


4.   Growth In Spending

Despite less shopping trips, food and drink sales have increased substantially as people have been dining and drinking at home rather than eating out or going to the pub.

Kantar Worldpanel figures show supermarket sales increased 14.3% from March to mid-May, and a 17.2% rise in the last week in March.

In fact, spending grew 7.3% in the three months to June. Compared with the same period in 2019, it was more than double the year’s average.


5.   A Different Approach To New Product Development

Getting consumers to try new products is no mean feat at the best of times. During a pandemic, it’s undoubtedly going to be even more difficult. People look to purchase ‘risk-free’ products that they’re sure their families will enjoy.

Innovation made up just 2.9% of all supermarket sales in the 12 weeks to 17th May 2020, according to Kantar. That’s a drop from 5.3% in 2019. MD of Alpine Account Management, Dave Knowles, remarked that during the lockdown period, consumers were “much less likely to try something they’ve not heard of or spend time perusing”.

However, tactical brands are favouring range extensions rather than entirely new brand launches. In the free-from category, Michael Hunter, Chief Growth Officer of The Meatless Farm Co, observed that the crisis has been a “catalyst for innovation rather than a cause for cutbacks” for the company, as more consumers look to experiment with free-from options.

Some supermarkets are also taking advantage of increased sales in certain categories, focussing on NPD in these areas. As alcohol sales through grocery stores were up 43% compared to 2019, it’s unsurprising that Tesco conducted a substantial review of its craft beer range.


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