Tag Archives: COVID-19 impact on supermarket shopping

Stockpile Alert?

A recent SupermarketNews article shared the results of Inmar Intelligence research that warned retailers and consumers alike that we could be in for another wave of consumer stockpiling.

With COVID-19 infection rates climbing and mounting concerns about the Delta variant, a surprising number of people are fearing the worst.

Of 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed by Inmar, 69.4% said they’re considering replenishing a current stockpile of groceries and other essential products as transmission of the Delta variant increases.

Forty-six percent have already created a product stockpile in response to coronavirus, and 12% of those that haven’t done so said they now will stock up because of the Delta variant.

Another 32.8% said they’re not sure if they will build up their supplies.

Interestingly, sixty percent of consumers polled reported still having products in stockpile they created because of the COVID-19 outbreak! And sixty-five percent said they now plan to always have a stock of food and supplies for emergencies like the pandemic.

If these projections should prove to be accurate, grocery shopping trends could very well shift back to what we experienced at the height of the pandemic, which included larger average order size and an influx in online transactions.

Stores of the Future?

crystal ball

The pandemic has had a significant impact on how people shop, but these buying habits are quickly changing. As a result, today’s supermarket leaders are imagining what tomorrow’s stores will look like.

Based on information published by SuperMarketNews, five key product categories that have been impacted the most include:

  1. Produce. Consumers have been moving toward local produce in supermarkets for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand as customers are more inclined to help out their local producers in a time of need while feeling better about food safety when produce is coming from suppliers they know. That has driven more stores to beef up their efforts to offer local produce.
  2. Bakery. Fresh bakery departments were among the hardest hit sections of the grocery store, as due to the pandemic people were afraid to purchase anything that others could come in contact with. At the onset of COVID-19 bakery sales dropped considerably as shoppers pivoted to purchasing longer shelf-life items and focused on buying staples versus indulgence products. But since last summer and fall, retailers have ramped up safety and protective measures throughout their bakeries and are working to entice customers back.
  3. Meat. Possibly its position as a “comfort food” has kept meat sales at a high level throughout the pandemic. However, as people are going ‘back to work’ it is likely that they will have less time for meal planning and preparation, so value-added innovation with respect to meal prep is going to be a very important factor going forward. Frozen meats also became more popular during the pandemic, and many grocers expect consumers to continue buying this option now that their comfort level with it is high.
  4. Deli. Sales of deli meats have been very high during the pandemic thanks in large part to more lunch occasions at home. However, some shoppers have shied away from the deli area because they have been reluctant to stand around other people while waiting their turn. Consequently, ‘grab and go’ options have become more popular. Finding ways to make people feel comfortable and safe has been a priority, and the current availability of vaccines is expected to ease the problem.
  5. Frozen foods. Pandemic-related efforts for stocking up on grocery items drove a big increase in frozen food sales over the past year, but sales are expected to dip back to more normal levels going forward.

Voice of the Customer

Supermarket shoppers appear to be optimistic about things “returning to normal” according to a recent study by Acosta Research, thought the results vary a bit based on certain demographics. They also believe that some of the new in-store behaviors being put in place, such as hand sanitizing and mask wearing, may become permanent.

According to the study, 51% of shoppers polled expect life to return to normal in less than six months, while 29% believe it will take more than a year to return to pre-coronavirus behavior and daily life.

Summarized in a SupermarketNews article, the study also indicated that many of the current safety protocols have become second nature to shoppers, and that Millenials and Southerners are the most optimistic about a return to pre-Covid life.

43% of those surveyed believed their state was “reopening” at an appropriate rate, while 39% said steps toward reopening were being taken too soon. Only 13% said their state’s reopening plans were moving too slowly.

A bit closer to the aisles, 68% of shoppers reported using a hand sanitizer before or after shopping, and the same percentage reported wearing a mask while shopping. The study found mask usage has doubled since early April (most popular among shoppers in the Northeast) and nearly half of shoppers (49%) reported shopping during off-peak hours to avoid crowds. The use of self-checkout has risen as well with 34% of shoppers choosing to do so.

Not surprisingly, shoppers are over-buying select items depending upon expectations of supply shortages. The current (as of mid-May) item of concern is meat, as opposed to the paper products buying frenzies during the first quarter. Of those who are “stocking up,” 34% said they were doing so because they are “eating at home more often” and 31% said the reason was fear of shortages or an attempt to reduce the frequency of shopping trips. 35% noted higher prices,