Apr 23, 2020

4/23 Update: The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Consumer Behavior

Man grabbing groceries from door with glove
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.




With most consumers stuck at home living their new normal, behavior and sentiment remain fairly consistent with what we’ve seen in prior weeks. We also asked consumers whether they have received or anticipate receiving stimulus checks and how they intended to use the funds. With much remaining the same week-to-week, consumers appear to have settled into their routines for this period of social distancing and staying at home.

3 in 4 consumers expect to receive a stimulus check

When we asked this question a few weeks ago, only two-thirds of respondents said they expected to receive a stimulus check. In the past two weeks, it seems many got clarity, as the number has increased to three-fourths. As of April 21, when this survey was conducted, 51% of those who expected a check had already received their payout. 

The most common intended uses of the stimulus bill are to pay bills, to put into savings, or to purchase essentials like food and medications.

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

This week, 91% of consumers said their shopping behavior had been impacted by Coronavirus, up slightly from last week’s 89%. As expected, we have not seen any major changes in this number over the past five weeks, and we anticipate it staying relatively consistent until stay-at-home orders are lifted, or until there are any other major developments in the outbreak’s progression. 

Nearly half of consumers are trading in-store for online shopping

This week we saw an increase in the number of consumers who are shopping online instead of in-store; 45% say they’re making some trips online that they’d normally make to physical stores. As social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines continue to be emphasized and enforced across the country, we expect this shift online to continue. Other impacts like product shortages and stock-up behaviors saw slight upticks this week as well, fluctuations we have come to expect during this unprecedented period. 

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

Nearly 67% of those surveyed said they have placed an online delivery (ship-to-home) order in the past week, and 47% say they have placed an online order that they’ve picked up in stores (click-and-collect). 

11% 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; 31% of click-and-collect users said the same. Compared to previous weeks, the attraction of new users to these services seems to be slowing down, but it is still significant, and the number of households using the services overall is high. Retailers should continue to prioritize and invest in these offerings, given their evident appeal— and need— in this time of social distancing.

Consumers care about retailer precautions

For nearly all consumers, in-store shopping is still a necessary part of life, and they expect retailers to be doing their part to create a safe and healthy in-store environment. 84% of shoppers said they consider increased sanitation procedures at retailers to be important or extremely important in selecting where they shop. Providing employees with protective gear like masks and gloves, modified hours for seniors and at-risk individuals, and limiting the number of people in the store at once were also important considerations in choosing a retailer. 

Many consumers said they wanted to see retailers continuing these new practices even after the time official government guidelines were lifted. Increased sanitation procedures and plastic dividers at the register were the top two practices consumers wanted to maintain longer-term. Retailers should anticipate continuing many behaviors to increase customer confidence and safety even beyond the peak of the outbreak.

Concern over Coronavirus down from prior weeks

32% of consumers rated themselves as “very concerned (10/10)” this week, up only marginally from last week’s 31%. This is still significantly lower than the 40% we saw two weeks ago.

Economic impact top cited concern overall, while infection is primary concern 

Economic impact was the concern cited by the highest number of individuals, while becoming infected was by far the most widely cited primary concern. Although fewer individuals are worried about becoming infected than are worried about the economy, over half of those concerned about infection said that was their primary concern. Inability to see friends or family or to purchase basic needs were also top concerns.

Looking Ahead

Given the fast-changing nature of the outbreak, we anticipate seeing fluctuations in behavior, impact and levels of concern in the coming weeks. For now, we look towards a continued period of temporary normalcy— consistent, essentials-only purchasing— until stay-at-home orders are lifted and ultimately, until the threat of the virus has diminished.

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 variety of resources to help you understand COVID-19’s impact on consumers. All of these resources can be found on our Coronavirus Research Center.

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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