As more cities are going under lockdowns, nonessential businesses are being ordered to close, and customers are generally avoiding public places. Limiting shopping for all but necessary essentials is becoming a new normal. From bulk-buying to online shopping, people are changing what they’re buying, when, and how.
Take the U.K., for example, new data compiled from IMRG (as reported by Internet Retailing) indicates that British online retail sales rose by 22 percent in the first week of April 2020 compared to the same time the previous year.
This trajectory is evidenced through research undertaken by C+R looking at the ways U.S. citizens have changed their grocery shopping habits. The findings reveal that 60 percent of shoppers are now fearful to shop at a grocery store and 73 percent are shopping less at physical grocery stores, turning to online providers. People are also spending more. The average weekly grocery spend before COVID-19 was $159; whereas, the average weekly grocery spend since COVID-19: $184.
To add to this, retailers also need to grapple with stock issues (which requires careful management of their supply chains, again requiring an increased use of digital technology) and with distributing purchases to customers in a way that is both timely and safe. In the U.S., many small retailers have joined forces to help leverage purchasing power, distribution networks and to seek economies of scale.
C+R research, for example, showed that grocery delivery in the U.S. has increased almost four-fold during COVID-19 where, at the same time, in-store shopping has decreased. As an example of increased reliance upon deliveries, consumers on average took 2.3 weekly trips to the grocery store before COVID-19 and now average only 1 per week.
Going forwards there is the likelihood that retail will never be the same again, as consumers become increasingly used to making online purchases, meaning major changes ahead for the traditional bricks and mortar stores. It’s been suggested that many stores will be transformed into large showrooms, showcasing higher-end physical products while consumers buy the actual products through digital channels.
Men’s and Women’s Shopping Behaviors Vary
While data shows that shopping behaviors are changing based on generational differences, we’re also seeing variations based on gender.
While survey data shows that women are more likely to be concerned about the effects of COVID-19, it also shows that men are more likely to have it impact their shopping behaviors. One-third of men, compared to 25% of women, reported the pandemic affecting how much they spend on products. Additionally, 36% of men, compared to 28% of women, reported it affecting how much they are spending on experiences (travel, restaurants, entertainment, etc.).
Men were also found to be shopping online and avoiding in-store experiences more than women. This includes taking advantage of options that limit in-store interactions like BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store), curbside pickup, and subscription services.
Changes in Revenue Across Ecommerce
As people have embraced social distancing as a way to slow the spread of the pandemic, there has naturally been a drop-off in brick-and-mortar shopping. That would seem to mean there would likely be an increase in online shopping as people turn to ecommerce to purchase the items they might have otherwise purchased in person.
Has that prediction won out? In reality, ecommerce sales are not higher across the board, although some industries are seeing significant upticks. This is especially true for online sellers of household goods and groceries. JD.com, China’s largest online retailer, has seen sales of common household staples quadruple over the same period last year.
A survey by Engine found that people are spending on average 10-30% more online.
Fashion and apparel
Omnichannel sellers are seeing big losses, in part because they’re closing the retail arms of their businesses all together. People are understandably not interested in shopping for clothes in person. Department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney, large chains like Abercrombie & Fitch and Nike, and DTC brands with some storefronts like Rothys and Everlane are all closing their physical stores and experiencing losses. Some stores like Patagonia are halting even their online stores to protect all workers in their supply chain.
Even online apparel sales are down as people are putting more of their budgets into daily essentials. The chart below is again from Shipbob’s data of their 3,000+ merchants. This shows an overall 20% decrease in sales month-over-month.
TIM SANDLE, How COVID-19 is reshaping shopping habits, http://www.digitaljournal.com/
Susan Meyer, Understanding the COVID-19 Effect on Online Shopping Behavior, https://www.bigcommerce.com/