If the coronavirus pandemic again forces public lockdowns, 53% of American consumers say they will stockpile groceries as well as hygienic and school supplies, according to a survey by CPG sales and marketing firm Acosta.
Of shoppers polled, 38% said they stocked up on groceries at the start of the COVID-19 crisis and would do so again if another shutdown occurs. That scenario also would spur another 15% of respondents to build up their stores of groceries, even though they didn’t stockpile at the beginning of the pandemic.
A large percentage of consumers (41%) don’t plan to stock up on groceries amid another coronavirus lockdown. Acosta found that 17% stockpiled when the pandemic started but said they won’t this time, while 24% didn’t stock up at the beginning of the outbreak and won’t if another shutdown comes. Six percent of people surveyed said they’re not sure what they would do.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta — which conducted the online surveys from July 10-16, its 10th round of coronavirus research — noted that retailers need to be ready because consumer concern about the pandemic hasn’t abated, especially as COVID-19 cases started to escalate again nationwide since early summer.
More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents think another COVID-19 lockdown is extremely or somewhat likely, Acosta said. Similarly, consumers rate their level of concern about the pandemic at 7.9 on a scale of 1 to 10 — the same as in the latter part of March (7.9), after the virus was declared a national emergency, and near peak levels in April (8.2 for April 4-7 and 8.1 for April 17-23), when the pace of public shutdowns picked up around the country as incidence of the disease skyrocketed.
As of midday Aug. 7, the United States had 4.89 million COVID-19 cases, and 160,157 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“As COVID cases continue to rise, most shoppers believe we’re headed for another shutdown and plan to respond accordingly, so retailers should be prepared for a new surge in stocking up,” said Darian Pickett, CEO of North American sales at Acosta. “The pandemic will also significantly impact back-to-school shopping this year, and retailers will need to adapt to parents’ new priorities and shopping preferences.”
Coronavirus protection will also be part of the back-to-school shopping list. Sixty-six percent of consumers polled said they plan to buy hand sanitizer, and 60% aim to buy masks and gloves. Sixty-four percent plan to purchase basic school supplies.
Shoppers, too, will continue to curtail trips to the store for back-to-school items. Acosta found that 33% plan to buy more online, and 23% plan to have more products delivered. Twenty percent of respondents indicated they plan to shop in fewer stores.
“Hand sanitizer, masks and gloves will be the most in-demand items, in addition to basic school supplies, and many will opt for online shopping and delivery options,” according to Pickett.
COVID-19’s impact on the holiday season also is weighing on the minds of U.S. consumers, Acosta’s survey showed. Forty-three percent of respondents are worried traditions that will be impacted by the pandemic and celebrations will be disrupted, while 27% said they can’t think about the holidays with everything else going on. Another 25% reported that they’re looking forward to the holidays and plan to celebrate as usual.
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