Apr 2, 2020

4/2 Update: The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Consumer Behavior

The data in this post is from an earlier version of our COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey. Click below to view the most recent version of these insights.




As concern regarding Coronavirus grows, impact on consumer behavior begins to slow or stabilize in many regards. With the majority of the country now under stay-at-home orders— set to continue through the month of April— consumers are settling into a “temporary normal” that includes regular trips / online orders to replenish necessities and little else. 

Although most non-essential businesses have closed their doors, consumers are still holding tight to some familiar behaviors, including eating out— though restaurant traffic is down significantly, the majority of consumers are still making occasional take-out or delivery orders to supplement their in-home eating behavior. 

9 in 10 consumers have changed their shopping behavior as a result of Coronavirus

This week, 89% of consumers said their shopping behavior had been impacted by Coronavirus, only marginally higher than last week’s 88%. We expect this number to stay relatively consistent until stay-at-home orders are lifted. Impact among Gen Z’ers declined slightly versus last week, but all other generations showed higher levels of impact, older consumers most significantly.

Shoppers settle into new normal as product shortages and stock-up behaviors decline

The most frequently cited impact on shopping behavior continues to be product shortages, but the number of consumers reporting this impact declined for the first time this week. For the second week in a row, we also saw a decline in stock-up behaviors. Additionally, over half of consumers said they are delaying purchases of non-essential goods or services, and more than a third said stores they would otherwise go to are closed. All of these behaviors are indicative of the new — albeit temporary— normal in which we see consumers stepping back from non-essential activities and purchases.

3 in 4 consumers visited a restaurant or ordered delivery/takeaway last week

Although 61% of consumers say they are eating/drinking out less than before, the majority still made at least one purchase of a meal or snack outside of the home last week, and many plan to do the same next week. When asked about their likelihood of ordering from a restaurant or delivery service next week, 38.3% said they probably or definitely would. 24% mentioned they would do so for convenience or because they didn’t want to cook, and 13% mentioned supporting local or small businesses.

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

13% of those who placed an online ship-to-home order in the past month indicated it was their first time ever or first time in the past six months doing so. About one-third of click-and-collect users were new or ‘new lately.’ Retailers should continue to prioritize and invest in their online and click-and-collect offerings, given their evident appeal in this time of social distancing.

1 in 3 individuals are “very concerned” about Coronavirus

Nearly all individuals surveyed indicated a level of concern regarding Coronavirus, with 90% rating themselves as at least “somewhat concerned (5/10).” The balance from week-to-week continues to shift higher; those who rated themselves as “very concerned (10/10)” jumped to 34% this week from 26% last week and 15% the week before. 

While overall concern grows, specific concerns center around physical and economic health

Note: This week, we adjusted our survey questionnaire to be more representative of the concerns we were hearing from our panelists. As a result, we do not recommend comparing against previous weeks of our Coronavirus survey insights.

The top concerns this week were impact on the economy, inability to see friends and family, and becoming infected— self/member of household first, followed by someone outside of the household. Though these were the top concerns overall, when looking specifically at what individuals cited as their “primary” concern, becoming infected, economic impact, and impact on job security were the most prevalent. 

Consumption or purchase-related concerns fell towards the middle of the list; inability to purchase basic necessities was cited by 52% of individuals, cancelling upcoming travel 42%, and inability to purchase other non-essential goods and services 37%. For most, these concerns were not of primary importance, as their main focuses were on both physical and economic well being.

Looking Ahead

While we anticipate the level of concern will continue to rise as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, we do not expect it to result in as many extreme swings in consumer behavior in the coming weeks. Instead, a temporary period of normalcy— consistent, essentials-only purchasing— is likely to settle in until stay-at-home orders are lifted. 

Numerator will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure brands and retailers have the most up-to-date information on consumer behavior. Each week during the outbreak we will publish a Shopping Behavior Index providing a weekly year over year index of FMCG sales for 16 retail channels, an Early Read Index with data on the most recent two weeks of shopper behavior, a new Stockpiling Index, and an updated version of this verified buyer survey.

For more information on how your brand or category is affected by COVID-19, please contact your Numerator Customer Success and Consultants or get in touch with us.










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