Which Covid-19 shopping habits are probably here to stay?

By our News Team | 2021

Discover the long-term shifts in UK consumer shopping behaviour that will likely outlast the pandemic.

Covid-19 has made a real difference to the way we all shop. Some of these changes in consumer behaviour will be here for the long run. But some are short term and, in many cases, are already fading. 

Four short-term changes in habits

According to Michael Freedman, Senior Shopper Insight Manager at UK-based insights company IGD, the biggest behavioural shifts during the Covid-19 pandemic were:

  • Reduced levels of shopping around. That, of course, is already reversing direction.
  • Decline in shopper confidence. This has now recovered and is at one the highest levels in the last five years in the UK.
  • Shifting channel usage. Freedman explains: “More people are now returning to food, variety discount stores and convenience stores. The pandemic also led to an increase in the big main shop at the expense of top-up and other missions such as food-to-go.”
Shopping habits

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo @ Unsplash

Five long-term changes in habits

  • Online food and grocery shopping was a big area of transformation in the food sector. “Although restrictions in physical stores have now been reduced, online food shopping is still significantly higher than before Covid-19, indicating this is a trend that is here to stay,” Freedman said.
  • The shift from office to home. “If there is [only] a limited return to [cities] for shopping, work and leisure, this presents an opportunity for retailers operating in the suburbs.”
  • Increased focus on shopping locally and supporting independents has been a positive change for fine-food retailers in Britain. 
  • A deepened financial strain and inflationary concerns. “The pandemic has also led to increased pressure on inflation, reflecting higher commodity, labour and energy costs, coupled with increasing demand,” he warned. “This may lead to [a] sudden return to risk-aversion and more value-seeking behaviour in shoppers.”
  • A growing focus on health. “Governments are accelerating plans to tackle obesity in light of the negative outcomes of Covid-19 on those above a healthy weight. Expect this to be a key focus in the months ahead.” 

Source: Speciality Food Magazine, UK

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