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Shopping Habits During COVID-19

In our last article, we discussed how the Covid-19 lockdowns impact the eating habits of consumers. New lifestyles, regulations, and restrictions are shaping not only the way we eat, but also the way we shop. As a consulting company specializing in the Food and Beverage industry, IBDC prioritizes staying informed about changing consumer behaviors in order to give our clients informed advice. 


One of the main changes in the way we get our groceries is the decreased amount of in-person shopping. According to C+R Research, 73% of consumers say that they decreased their physical grocery shopping since the start of the pandemic. There has been a big increase in online shopping - grocery delivery has increased 3.5x, and Amazon delivery sales have increased 2.5x. Many consumers report still going to the grocery store, but getting all of their shopping done in one weekly trip, as opposed to 2-3 trips pre-pandemic. About half of the surveyed consumers also reported trying to shop in the off-hours in order to avoid crowds.


Another big change in shopping habits represents not how we shop, but what we buy. The items at the top of people’s grocery lists have changed over the course of the pandemic. Initially, consumers were panic-buying toilet paper and sanitizing products. Stores were selling out and had trouble with keeping the shelves stocked. Once the initial craze has calmed down, consumers switched to stocking up more on pantry staples, like canned soup, pasta, and rice. In the last few weeks, the consumer demand has changed once again, with people shifting towards buying more comfort foods and meal preparation foods. Frozen food sales have also increased in the most recent weeks. 


Finally, there has also been an increased consumer interest in specialty and gourmet foods. Many consumers have turned towards more health conscious buys, like foods containing immunity-boosting ingredients, or plant-based foods. Plant-based meats first saw a huge increase in sales during the panic-buying stage of the pandemic. Many people had trouble finding regular meat and chose plant-based options. However, the rise in sales of plant-based foods has stably continued in the months following panic-buying, which suggests that the industry has staying power in the food market.


New ways of shopping and quickly changing consumer trends are forcing brands to adapt to this new market in order to succeed. With consumers moving away from in-person shopping, brands need to find a new way to market their products and create customer loyalty. There’s no certainty on how consumers will shift their behavior, but one thing is for sure. The Food and Beverage industry will continue to see more consumer behavior shifts in the months to come.

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