Blog
Jun 23, 2020

Numerator Canada 6/22 Update: The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Canadian Consumer Behaviour

CV Canada header 6-23
To help support our clients during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Numerator will provide ongoing analysis into consumer behaviour and sentiment by conducting ongoing surveys of verified buyers. In addition to our standard US consumer insights, we have expanded our North American footprint to bring critical insights to the Canadian market leveraging our Canadian OmniPanel. 
Access the latest version of these insights here. We will continue to keep all prior iterations of these survey insights available on our blog. 

Across Canada, some regions have begun easing COVID-19 restrictions and moving into the early phases of their reopening plans. In this latest iteration of our consumer sentiment survey, we saw a decline in COVID-19’s impact on shopping behaviour and the level of concern consumers have regarding the virus. We also asked consumers how they felt about phased reopening plans, and which newly reinstated activities they were likely to resume in the coming weeks. 

Consumers embrace non-essential activities as regions reopen

Compared to last month’s survey results, Canadian consumers have significantly increased their likelihoods of participating in a variety of non-essential or previously limited activities. The activities seeing the greatest increases are traveling domestically by car and visiting public spaces such as parks and beaches, which are certainly aided by summer weather and next week’s celebration of Canada Day. Businesses catering to travel and hospitality may be in for a slight boost after months of inactivity, and those with proper social distancing and safety measures in place are likely to see an added benefit of consumer comfort and confidence moving forward. 

Two in three consumers said they would likely order pick-up or delivery from a restaurant in the coming weeks, but far fewer said they would dine-in at a restaurant. Fewer than one in six consumers said they would go to bars, gyms or movie theatres. As we ease into the reopening process, businesses should expect a slow return to any out-of-home social activities and behaviours, particularly those that are indoors. 

COVID-19 impact on consumer behaviour down from prior weeks 

This week, 82% of Canadian consumers said their shopping behaviour had been impacted by Coronavirus, the lowest level we’ve seen since we began surveying consumers in mid-March, and right in-line with US levels. Though the numbers are still high, we expect to see a sustained, slow decline in impact as more businesses get up-and-running again. However, given ongoing uncertainties, supply chain disruptions, and risks of potential resurgences in cases, it is likely we will continue to see fairly elevated levels of impact and occasional increases before we see a full return to normal.

Many shopping habits continue slow return to pre-COVID norms

For the second month in a row, many of the shopping impacts we’ve seen as a result of COVID-19 were down significantly in June. This is expected, given the widespread reopening of many non-essential stores and businesses, and we anticipate continued declines as regions progress through their phased reopenings. Less than half of consumers experienced product shortages and less than a third encountered store closures. Despite in-store reopenings, online shopping remained elevated, with nearly half of consumers opting for online orders in lieu of in-store trips.

Online delivery and click-and-collect services continue to attract new users

Two-thirds of Canadian consumers surveyed said they had placed an online delivery (ship-to-home) order in recent weeks, and nearly half said they had placed an online order for pick-up (click-and-collect). 

21% of those who placed an online ship-to-home order indicated it was their first time ever or first time in the past six months doing so; 39% of click-and-collect users said the same. These numbers of new shoppers for online services are significantly higher than what we’ve seen in the US, where 11% of ship-to-home shoppers and 27% of click-and-collect shoppers are new or new lately. COVID-19 has brought about a drastic shift towards online shopping, particularly among Canadian shoppers who had previously been more hesitant to adopt these services. Retailers must continue to prioritize and invest in these delivery and click-and-collect options. 

Concern over Coronavirus at lowest level since mid-March

72% of Canadian consumers said their regions had entered at least Phase 1 of a reopening plan, which allows some non-essential businesses to reopen their doors. Attitudes surrounding reopening were split— 54% believed their region was reopening at the right pace, 30% thought it was moving too quickly, and 15% believed reopening was overdue. This varies considerably from US consumers, who were more likely to think opening was overdue, despite the fact that more US regions are open. 

The majority (43%) of these individuals said the reopening had not changed their level of concern regarding the virus, but many (36%) said their concerns had increased slightly as their regions began reopening. Despite this increased concern among some consumers, the overall level of concern decreased, with only 18% rating themselves as “very concerned (10/10)” about Coronavirus. This is the lowest level we’ve seen since we began running our survey in March. After reaching a peak in late March, we’ve seen a sustained decline in level of concern, which follows the trend we’re seeing in the US as well. 

Inability to see friends and family remains top concern for Canadian consumers

Canadian consumers were most concerned about their inability to see friends and family, compared to US consumers, who were most concerned about becoming infected with the virus and the economic impact of COVID-19. Economic impact and risk of infection were still two of the primary concerns cited by Canadian consumers, though the levels were slightly lower than seen in the United States. 

Looking Ahead

Given the fast-changing nature of the outbreak, we anticipate continued fluctuations in behaviour, impact and levels of concern in the coming weeks. As seen recently, even the lifting of stay-at-home orders will not be a quick-fix for businesses or consumers, but rather will initiate a slow return to a new normal. Now more than ever, it will be important to monitor consumer behaviour and sentiment in order to navigate reopening communities and adjusting to this new normal.

Numerator will be closely monitoring the situation to ensure brands and retailers have the most up-to-date information on consumer behaviour. For more information on how your brand or category is affected by COVID-19— in Canada or in the United States— please get in touch with us.