Online, Liquor Channels Most Resilient; Mass, Gas & C-Store and Dollar Least Resilient

Chicago, IL (August 12, 2020) – Numerator, a data and tech company bringing speed and scale to market research, has launched a Retailer Resilience Score for “Life on Pause” consumers.  Life on Pause consumers are one of six consumer segments identified in a Numerator segmentation study of 70,000 verified shoppers; the study will be updated quarterly to help brands, analysts and retailers understand consumer behavior across all six segments given the dynamic nature of job security, financial security, health concerns and more. The Life on Pause segment is of particular interest for retailers as this group is financially stable (meaning they have money and are willing to spend it) but has higher than normal concern about health. This means they are more likely to switch shopping behaviors and are a valuable segment for retailers to target. They are also the largest segment at 19% of total households — so a key factor in spending.

The analysis focuses on the index of Life on Pause consumers for specific retailer channels and specific retailers versus the average on two metrics: the % of Household penetration and the % of Spend. The difference between these two numbers results in the Retailer Resilience Score. (e.g., Life on Pause indexes at 103 as a percent of U.S. households for Target and at 114 as a percent of spend; this means these consumers are spending disproportionately at Target, giving Target a Retailer Resilience Score of 11). This study will be done in four waves (quarterly) with wave 1 based on analysis of 3/1/20 – 7/19/20 shopping behavior.

High level findings (details below) from an analysis of both retailers and retail channels include:

  • The five channels best poised to benefit from the spend-ready Life on Pause segment include the Online, Liquor, Office, Craft, and Baby & Toy channels.
  • The five retail channels at most risk as Life on Pause consumers make choices to protect their health by limited trips and staying at home include Mass, Gas & Convenience, Dollar, Department and Home Improvement stores. 
  • Walmart has the greatest risk with Life on Pause consumers in the Mass channel with a Retailer Resilience Score of -18. For comparison, Target has a Score of 11. In essence, Target is gaining more than fair share of spend among the Life on Pause segment and is reaching fair share in terms of the % of HH’s shopping during the COVID-Recessionary period, while Walmart is losing ground.

“While overall spend on household goods surged with COVID, consumer buying is shifting with changes in financial and job security, ongoing health concerns, and changing attitudes about restaurants and re-entry change,” said Eric Belcher, CEO, Numerator. “Resilience with high value shopper segments like Life on Pause offers a leading indicator of retailer strength as consumer circumstances rapidly change.”

Life on Pause key findings for the top 5 and bottom 5 retail channels (in an analysis of 25) include:


  • While already popular with this segment, it is not surprising that Online is also strong at 26. Life on Pause indexes at 101 on HH penetration, but Spend significantly over indexes at a 27% increase over average.
  • Likewise, the Liquor channel has a strong Resilience Score of 26 as this group is slow to engage in restaurants and bars and is enjoying cocktails at home.
  • Food and Club stores round out the top ten at Resilience Scores of 11 each. Note that in the Club channel, Life on Pause slightly over indexes as a percent of HH’s at +4%, but also has a stronger index on percent of spend at 115. The Life on Pause segment is also one that has transitioned more seamlessly to bulk buying, enabling them to do fewer, larger trips to Club Stores in keeping with their concern about managing health.
  • The Life on Pause segment under indexes by more than 10% for 3 of the bottom five segments, although Life on Pause consumers are roughly on par as a percentage of households for Mass and Gas & Convenience Stores.
  • Mass, Gas & Convenience and Dollar Store channels are all hemorrhaging the valuable Life on Pause segments with scores of -17, -21, and -23 respectively. 
  • This should be of particular concern to Mass which has a healthy representation of Life on Pause consumers as share of household penetration at -2% versus average — but is seeing its spend index down 19%. The Life on Pause segment already accounts for a smaller percentage of households for both Gas & Convenience (-5%) and Dollar Stores (-11%); while they are losing ground with this valuable segment, the existing underrepresentation will help mitigate losses, particularly for the Dollar Store channel.


Life on Pause key findings from a similar analysis done of specific retailers (versus total retail channel) include the following:


  • Walmart and Dollar General have the most risk with Retailer Resilience Scores of -18 and -21 respectively. Walmart has the greater risk as the Life on Pause segment represents a larger portion of their household penetration (with an index of 94) but with spend down 24% within this lucrative segment.
  • Home Depot is the most vulnerable given the higher presence of Life on Pause as part of their household base (103 index) but with decreased likelihood of spend (94 index).
  • Dollar General and Dollar Tree have significant risk (at 62 and 70 indices on % of Spend) but the Life on Pause segment tends to be a lesser factor for this segment, with the household penetration index at 83 and 85 respectively.
  • Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s lead the pack with high Retailer Resilience Scores with the Life on Pause segment. This health conscious segment already over performs on percent of households at 48% and 44% for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s respectively. They further outperform on percent of spend, indexing at 184 and 173. 


The study and Score will be updated quarterly to help brands, retailers and financial analysts monitor the relative strength of retailers in a dynamic environment. The full analysis looks at six segments in three themes: Unbothered (either Full Steam Ahead or Living My Frugal Life); Coping (Life on Pause or Pushing Forward) or Anxious (Scared & Struggling or Glass Half Full) who can be defined as below:

  • Unbothered: Full Steam Ahead (16% of HHs) — includes shoppers who were the least impacted by the pandemic. Their financial situation is stable, and their purchase behavior has remained largely the same as before the pandemic. With a relatively positive outlook on the economy, this segment is the most likely to pay more for their favorite brands, and to dine out at restaurants.
  • Unbothered: Living My Frugal Life (13% of HHs) — includes shoppers who were price-conscious before the onset of the pandemic. Their financial situation is stable, yet they utilize a variety of methods to save money when shopping. With a relatively positive outlook on the economy, this segment continues to be strategic in where they shop, what brands they buy, and overall how they spend their money.
  • Coping: Life on Pause (19% of HHs) — includes shoppers who place importance on their overall health keeping them away from others and have delayed returning to pre-COVID normalcy. This segment is shopping online and avoiding restaurants for their safety. This is an affluent segment with low concern over financial or job security; but pessimistic about the economy and country overall.
  • Coping: Pushing Forward (19% of HHs) — includes shoppers with moderate concerns over their health, financial and job security, who are trying to find a new normal. Life has not entirely returned to normal, but they are interacting with others. They prefer to shop in store not online and they are not delaying large purchases.
  • Anxious: Glass Half Full (17% of HHs) — includes shoppers impacted by the current environment but are starting to find a way out or at least remain hopeful. While lower income, this segment looks forward to returning to normalcy. They do have high levels of concern about financial situations, health of self and others, and household job security. They are mitigating the impact of the current environment on health and finances while sticking to their normal behaviors whenever possible.
  • Anxious: Scared & Struggling (18% of HHs) — includes shoppers who are most impacted by the current environment, with the greatest concern about finances, health of self and others, the household’s job security. This low income segment is gloomy about the economy and saving money, delaying purchases and turning to private label.

Numerator’s modern data and tech platform enables it to conduct massive consumer surveys, linked to verified purchase behavior, with speed and scale not previously available.

About Numerator

Numerator is a data and tech company bringing speed and scale to market research. Headquartered in Chicago, IL, Numerator has 1,600 employees worldwide. The company blends proprietary data with advanced technology to create unique insights for the market research industry that has been slow to change. The majority of Fortune 100 companies are Numerator clients.

View this release on PR Newswire.


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