COVID-19 pushed shoppers to switch retailers and brands, research shows

65% of Americans are ordering online and 60% explored alternatives to their usual retail choice, driven largely by stock shortages

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Pandemic-driven ‘out-of-stocks’, growing safety and financial concerns, and changing values have spurred shoppers to try different retailers and brands, and many U.S. shoppers plan to stay with their new-found alternatives, according to the “Shoppers’ Response to COVID-19 and the Outlook for Change” report.

Six in 10 shoppers chose to try an alternative to their primary retailer, either choosing another retailer’s brick-and-mortar store or online platform or Amazon during the pandemic, according to the report.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Changes in shopper behavior are related to where shoppers live and how severely their area was affected by the pandemic
  • One-third of shoppers plan to spend more on groceries in the coming months
  • Store brands are gaining in popularity, including among prosperous Americans.

While many shoppers turned to other brick-and-mortar locations, guidance to stay at home, concern about contracting COVID-19 and in-store ‘out-of-stocks’ led to a mass movement to online shopping on retailers’ websites or Amazon. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of surveyed shoppers reported they have ordered food and non-foods online since the start of the pandemic.

Even though online shoppers faced website glitches, delivery delays and ‘out-of-stocks’, 15% of U.S. shoppers say they plan to make more than half of their food purchases online in the future.

Brand Switching

‘Out-of-stocks’ and a switch in retail locations also moved more than half (55%) of shoppers to stray from their preferred brands during the pandemic. More than one-fourth (28%) of these shoppers said they expected to make the brand switch permanent.

“The fallout of COVID-19; stay-at-home guidance, supply chain disruptions fueled by panic buying and pantry filling, a fear of contracting the virus and the sudden surge in unemployment — has shifted the way Americans shop, where they shop and what they are buying,” according to Kimberly Senter, executive vice president, analytics, insights and intelligence for Advantage Sales. “What’s more, they plan to maintain many of their new shopping habits in the months to come” .

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