Pandemic-driven out-of-stocks, growing safety and financial concerns, and changing values have spurred shoppers to try different retailers and brands - and many US shoppers plan to stay with their new-found alternatives, according to "Shoppers' Response to COVID-19 and the Outlook for Change," a report by Advantage Sales (a division of Advantage Solutions). This article is copyright 2020 The Best Customer Guide.

Some 60% of shoppers said they chose to try an alternative to their primary retailer, either choosing another retailer's brick-and-mortar store or online platform or Amazon during the pandemic, according to the report, which is based on the responses of 1,804 US primary household shoppers and those who shared shopping responsibility participating in an online survey fielded between May 13 and May 18, 2020 by Advantage Sales' Analytics, Insights & Intelligence team.

While many shoppers turned to other brick-and-mortar locations, guidance to stay at home, concern about contracting COVID-19 and in-store out-of-stocks led to a mass movement to online shopping on retailers' websites or Amazon. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of surveyed shoppers reported they have ordered food and non-foods online since the start of the pandemic.

Even though online shoppers faced website glitches, delivery delays and out-of-stocks, 15% of US shoppers say they plan to make more than half of their food purchases online in the future.

Brand Switching
Out-of-stocks and a switch in retail locations also moved more than half (55%) of shoppers to stray from their preferred brands during the pandemic. More than one-fourth (28%) of these shoppers said they expected to make the brand switch permanent.

Among the report's findings:

  • Changes in shopper behavior are related to where shoppers live and how severely their area was affected by the pandemic.
  • One-third of shoppers plan to spend more on groceries in the coming months.
  • Store brands are gaining in popularity, including among prosperous Americans.

"The fallout of COVID-19 - stay-at-home guidance, supply chain disruptions fueled by panic buying and pantry filling, a fear of contracting the virus and the sudden surge in unemployment - has shifted the way Americans shop, where they shop and what they are buying," according to Kimberly Senter, executive vice president, analytics, insights and intelligence for Advantage Sales. "What's more, according to our survey results, they plan to maintain many of their new shopping habits in the months to come."