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Shopkick's poll found that 61% of shoppers are stocking up on groceries and other essential items, up from 47% in its March survey.

Stockpiling returns as more grocery shoppers go omnichannel

U.S. consumers shift purchasing habits as coronavirus cases skyrocket, surveys find

U.S. grocery shoppers have resumed stockpiling and become more frequent omnichannel consumers amid a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, according to new surveys from Shopkick and ACI Worldwide.

Of nearly 8,000 consumers polled nationwide Nov. 23 to 25, 48% report being more concerned about coronavirus now than a month ago, rewards app provider Shopkick said Monday. The increased worry about the virus, in turn, has led 61% of respondents to stock up on groceries and other essential items, a sizable jump from 47% in a Shopkick survey during the first wave of COVID-19 in March. 

And more shoppers are poised to begin stocking up, Shopkick found. Of the 39% of consumers who aren’t currently stockpiling essential items, 47% said they will do so if COVID-19 cases continue to proliferate. 

Overall, Millennials are the generation stocking up the most (65%), followed by Gen X (62%), Gen Z (59%) and Baby Boomers (57%). 

The top items being purchased by stockpilers include toilet paper (87%), food and water (85%), cleaning supplies (67%), hand sanitizer (61%), medicine and medical items (48%) and pet supplies (37%). And as in the first wave of COVID-19, shoppers seeking essential items are seeing increased out-of-stocks. Of those polled by Shopkick, 76%  report that staple products in stock a month ago — such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies — are now less available at their local store. 

“These findings should serve as a huge wakeup call for retailers and brands,” Dave Fisch, general manager of Redwood City, Calif.-based Shopkick, said in a statement. “The same issues that severely impacted supply chains during the first wave of COVID have returned, as consumers revert to stocking up and panic buying. Retailers and brands must act immediately to implement strategies that will help keep store shelves well-stocked in order to maintain sales and consumer loyalty during this time.”


Shopkick’s research also revealed that consumers aren’t daunted from shopping in stores, despite the surge in coronavirus cases around the country. Ninety-two percent of respondents said someone in their household is still buying essential items from brick-and-mortar stores, including big-box retailers (88%), grocery stores (80%), drugstores (61%), dollar stores (54%), club stores (43%) and convenience stores (30%). 

Nevertheless, 36% of those surveyed indicated they feel less comfortable shopping in stores now versus a month ago. Some also are making fewer store trips per week compared with a month ago, led Baby Boomers (47%) and followed by Gen X consumers (43%), Millennials (38%), and Gen Z shoppers (38%). 

In a survey of 2,066 U.S. consumers, digital payments specialist ACI Worldwide and payments news service found a more omnichannel-oriented grocery shopper. Sixty-four percent of those polled said they buy at least one of their routine grocery purchases online. What’s more, 16% of all grocery shoppers are buying fewer groceries in-store and more online than before the pandemic, compared with 4% who said they shifted from in-store to online in March.

Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, 17% of respondents have switched from grocery shopping in-store to online, according to ACI and’s “Omnichannel Grocery Report.”

Twenty-three percent of consumers said they’re ordering groceries online for home delivery more now than before the pandemic, compared with 21% stepping up use of curbside pickup and 12% increasing use of in-store pickup. ACI said 42% of online grocery shoppers are acquiring their digital purchases via home delivery versus 40% for curbside pickup and 35% for in-store pickup.

Similarly, 43%of consumers who have never bought groceries online indicated they would be “very” or “extremely” interested in using digital payment options, while 38% would be “somewhat” interested.

“In the wake of the pandemic, a new type of consumer is emerging, one who shops less in-store and represents a quickly growing part of the digital-first economy,” explained Debbie Guerra, executive vice president of Naples, Fla.-based ACI Worldwide. “For grocery stores, this is a huge opportunity to cater to these consumers by providing digital and contactless payment options.”

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However, Americans are not eschewing physical stores during the pandemic, ACI noted. The study showed that 79% of all grocery shoppers still prefer to buy at least some of their groceries in-store, and 80% report making their purchases in-store.

The top items being bought in stores include fruit and vegetables (83%), fresh meat (81%) and dairy products (77%). Meanwhile, shoppers are buying nonfood items such as shampoo, first-aid and cleaning products (21%) as well as packaged food products (14%) online.

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed are buying groceries from online grocery retailers of all sizes, the study found. On the brick-and-mortar side, 61% are purchasing groceries at large national chains, led by Walmart (67%), Target (33%) and Costco Wholesale (26%). Twenty-eight percent of consumers shop at small, local grocery stores, and 14% buy from local convenience stores.

“While consumers are still purchasing their groceries in-store, particularly when buying perishable items such as fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, the survey shows an increase in online grocery shopping since the pandemic began,” Guerra said. “Consumers’ need for these necessities, coupled with the need to stay safe during the pandemic, is driving online grocery shopping whether for home delivery or curbside pickup. We expect this trend to increase as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the U.S.”

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TAGS: Coronavirus
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