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Twenty-eight percent of online grocery shoppers made their first-ever online grocery order in March due to COVID-19, according to Acosta research.

More grocery shoppers making their first-ever online orders during pandemic

Existing online shoppers are ordering more frequently, says Acosta study

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the United States, new research from CPG marketing agency Acosta finds that while online ordering is ramping up, more shoppers are also making additional stock-up trips to the grocery store.

The report, which found 28% of online grocery shoppers made their first-ever online grocery order in March due to COVID-19, also provides guidance to help retailers and brands navigate unprecedented challenges.

“Our first round of research into consumer behavior was conducted just as this crisis was beginning to take shape in the U.S.,” said Darian Pickett, CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Acosta. “This second round, conducted at the end of March, offers a stronger snapshot of current consumer behavior with 65% of respondents reporting they have changed their shopping habits due to COVID-19, compared to just 23% in our previous survey taken between March 6-12. As the number of cases unfortunately continues to rise and more states and counties impose quarantine measures, we expect to see further changes in consumer behavior in the coming weeks.”

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Acosta’s latest COVID-19 research report, gathered via online surveys between March 20 and 29, provides insight into shoppers’ changing habits, as well as recommendations for retailers and brands, including: 

• When comparing channel shopping behaviors, many shoppers reported going to stores less frequently, especially mass merchandisers. Among those who shopped at a mass merchandiser in March, 47% reported making fewer trips.

• Stocking up is becoming more commonplace. More shoppers indicated purchasing pantry food items in addition to cleaning items/paper products compared to Acosta’s previous survey.

• About half of U.S. shoppers said they made an additional stock-up grocery trip in the past week.

• Eighty-eight percent of shoppers experienced out-of-stocks, and of those shoppers, 47% found a substitute for half or more of their unavailable items. 

While shoppers are making fewer grocery store trips compared to Acosta’s previous survey, more shoppers are turning to grocery e-commerce. Twenty-eight percent of online grocery shoppers made their first-ever online grocery order in March due to COVID-19.

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Many consumers who had previously ordered groceries online reported ordering more frequently. Of the 36% of shoppers who ordered groceries online for store pickup, 33% reported making more orders in March. Of the 38% of shoppers who ordered groceries online for home delivery, 37% reported making more orders in March.

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“Retailers should continue to implement solutions that reduce the risk of shopper and employee transmission of the virus, such as aisle flow solutions and expanded cashier-less checkout options,” the report said. “Retailers should expand online ordering fulfillment and pickup/delivery time slots in order to meet the needs of new e-commerce shoppers who prefer not to shop in the store.”

For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.

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