Grocery Buying Behavior Shifting Dramatically Due to COVID-19

Many more consumers are changing their buying habits in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, with 28% of e-grocery shoppers placing their first-ever order during March, according to a study from CPG research firm Acosta.

And nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers reported changing their shopping habits by the end of March, Acosta found.

“Our first round of research into consumer behavior was conducted just as this crisis was beginning to take shape in the U.S.,” said Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta. “This second round, conducted at the end of March, offers a stronger snapshot of current consumer behavior with 65% of respondents reporting they have changed their shopping habits due to COVID-19, compared to just 23% in our previous survey. As the number of cases unfortunately continues to rise and more states and counties impose quarantine measures, we expect to see further changes in consumer behavior in the coming weeks.”

Here are some other findings from Acosta’s research:

  • When comparing channel shopping behaviors, many shoppers reported going to stores less frequently, especially mass merchandisers. Among those who shopped at a mass merchandiser in March, 47% reported making fewer trips.
  • Stocking up is becoming more commonplace. More shoppers indicated purchasing pantry food items in addition to cleaning items/paper products compared to Acosta’s previous survey. About half of U.S. shoppers said they made an additional stock-up grocery trip in the past week.
  • Eighty-eight percent of shoppers experienced out-of-stocks, and of those shoppers, 47% found a substitute for half or more of their unavailable items.

Acosta’s research was gathered via online surveys of its shopper community between March 20-29, 2020. It also used comparison data from online surveys conducted between March 6-12, 2020.

You can see more of Acosta’s findings in this infographic: