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Coronavirus Impacting Shopping Decisions, Spending, and Product Availability

As Coronavirus spreads nationwide, a recent survey by First Insight found that news of the virus is impacting the shopping behavior of 75 per cent of respondents, up from 45 per cent (a 70 per cent increase) when comparing to a survey fielded in late February.

The survey by First Insight, Inc., the world’s leading technology company transforming how retailers make product investment and pricing decisions, also pointed to significant swings in behavior by women and Baby Boomers over the last three weeks. Both groups had been slower to change behavior based on Coronavirus fears than their gender and generational counterparts, but are now in greater alignment.

For example, 71 per cent of women now say that the virus is impacting where and how they shop, a 115 per cent increase from late February, compared to 67 per cent of men (a 76 per cent increase). Similarly, while Millennials report the greatest impact on purchase decisions (80 per cent, a 48 per cent increase from the previous survey), Boomers have now aligned behavior more with their younger counterparts with 73 per cent saying the same, a 121 per cent increase from the prior survey.

“As the number of Coronavirus cases increases, the governments have reacted appropriately, with more restrictions on movement and face-to-face interaction coming every day. This certainly has affected people and their perceptions of the world around them,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight. “This survey shows a significant shift in behavior as consumers adapt to their new reality, whether it’s increasing purchases of staple items, moving more shopping online, or cutting spending in some areas. The world looks very different than it did three short weeks ago, and things are likely to look different three weeks from today. Retailers, brands and manufacturers need to continue to be vigilant in providing the products customers need and want, both now and in future seasons. But, just as importantly, they need to understand what consumers want and how they feel today and into the future. That requires understanding the shifts in supply, demand, and customer preference. The only way to understand that shifting environment is to engage with their customers via tools like First Insight.”

Other significant generational and gender findings include

  • Women Surpass Men on Impact of Virus on Shopping Behavior: Fifty-nine per cent of women surveyed said that the virus was impacting how much they spent on products, compared to 56 per cent of men.
  • More Men Stockpiling Groceries and Cutting Back on Spending: With 46 per cent of all respondents buying more products in anticipation of Coronavirus, 47 per cent of men say they are stockpiling groceries in particular, compared to only 38 per cent of women.
  • Boomers Show Greatest Shift in Behavior Compared to Other Generations: Immobility has had a dramatic affect over the last three weeks, with 71 per cent of Baby Boomers saying it has impacted where and how they shop, up 173 per cent from the last survey.
  • Baby Boomers Less Inclined to Cut Back on Spending than Other Generations While 47 per cent of respondents are cutting back on spending overall, only 38 per cent of Boomers say they are reducing their spend in preparation for greater Coronavirus spread.
  • Baby Boomers Show Greatest Increase in Those Stockpiling Groceries: Similar to men, Baby Boomers are the generation showing the greatest increase over the last three weeks, with 34 per cent now saying they are stocking up versus only 10 per cent last survey, a 240% increase.

Women Surpass Men on Impact of Virus on How Much they Spend

Fifty-nine per cent of women surveyed (and 57% overall) said that the virus was impacting how much they spent on products, compared to 56 per cent of men. This represents a significant shift in behavior since the last survey, when 32 per cent of men and only 25 per cent of women felt the same. Similarly, while an equal number of both men and women felt it was affecting the products they purchase, this was a 136 per cent increase for women, compared to a 75 per cent increase for men.

More Men Stockpiling Groceries and Cutting Back on Spending

Forty-seven per cent of men say they are stockpiling groceries compared to only 38 per cent of women. This is a 114 per cent and 111 per cent increase over last time, respectively. Men also show greater shifts toward cutting spending, as reported by 54 per cent of men versus only 42 per cent of women who took the survey. This is a 54 per cent versus 24 per cent increase respectively compared to the last survey.

Boomers Show Greatest Shift in Behavior Compared to Other Generations

Seventy-four per cent of Baby Boomers (and 71 per cent of respondents overall) report the Coronavirus impacting how often they go out in public, a 164 per cent increase from the last survey. This immobility has had a dramatic affect over the last three weeks, with 71 per cent of Baby Boomers saying it has impacted where and how they shop, up 173% from the last survey. Other generations including Generation Z (65 per cent), Millennials (72 per cent) and Generation X (72 per cent) show similar impact, but a much less dramatic increase from the last survey.

Baby Boomers have also shifted their shopping to online significantly over the last few weeks. While overall 34 per cent of respondents are shopping more online, more Generation Z (37 per cent), Millennials (42 per cent), and Generation X (35 per cent) have increased their shopping online compared to Baby Boomers (23 per cent). Only 8 per cent of Baby Boomers reported shifting to online in the first survey; the growth to 34 per cent represents a 187 per cent increase.

Similarly, while 49 per cent of overall respondents are shopping less frequently in-store, Baby Boomers show the greatest percentage increase for shopping less frequently in-store (48 per cent), bringing this generation on par with younger generations including Millennials (50 per cent) and Gen Z (51 per cent). The number of Baby Boomers shopping less in-store increased 118 per cent over the last three weeks, a significantly larger jump than other generations.

So Far, Baby Boomers Less Inclined to Cut Back on Spending than Other Generations

Fewer Baby Boomers are cutting back on spending compared to other generations, even since the time of the last survey. Only 38 per cent of Boomers say they are reducing their spend in preparation for greater Coronavirus spread, compared to 54 per cent of Generation X, 49 per cent of Millennials and 51 per cent of Generation Z.

Baby Boomers Show Greatest Increase in Those Stockpiling Groceries

While 42 per cent of respondents overall admit to stocking up on groceries, more Millennials (47 per cent) and Gen Z (49 per cent) are doing so than other generations. That said, Baby Boomers have shown the greatest increase over the last three weeks, with 34 per cent now saying they are stocking up versus only 10 per cent last survey (240 per cent increase).

Similarly, Baby Boomers show the greatest percentage increase in the outbreak’s impact on spending on products as well as services. More than half of Baby Boomers (52 per cent, compared to 66 per cent overall) reported an impact on how much they are spending on products (a 174 per cent increase over last time). While Generation Z (51 per cent), Millennials (65 per cent) and Generation X (64 per cent) said the same, Baby Boomers showed the greatest shift overall. However, when considering impact on services such as restaurants, entertainment and travel (64 per cent overall reported an impact), Baby Boomers showed the greatest percentage increase with 64 per cent (a 112 per cent increase) versus 62 per cent of Generation Z (100 per cent increase), 65 per cent of Millennials (48 per cent increase), and 70 per cent of Generation X (53 per cent increase).

Product Availability and Shortages Driving People to Shop Online

According to the survey, the vast majority of respondents reported an impact on not only product availability (84 per cent) but shortages (72 per cent) and a growing number of consumers are shopping more frequently online, with a 62 per cent increase (34 per cent versus 21 per cent). Similarly, the number of consumers shopping less frequently in-store showed a 63 per cent increase (49 per cent versus 30 per cent).

Nearly All Respondents Feel Coronavirus Will Impact Global Economy

Ninety-eight per cent of respondents feel that the Coronavirus will impact the global economy, up slightly from 93 per cent at the time of the previous survey. Responses were split near equally across gender and generation. Further, 71 per cent of respondents said they were “worried about the Coronavirus”, up from 66 per cent at the time of the previous survey. Worth noting, Baby Boomers are now the most worried generation at 81 per cent, up from 72 per cent last time, with 68 per cent of Generation X, 72 per cent of Millennials and 64 percent of Generation Z saying the same.

Meeta Ramnani
Meeta Ramnani
Meeta develops credible content about various markets based on deep research, opinions from experts and inputs from industry leaders. As the managing editor at Smart Industry News, she assures that every piece of news and article adds to the knowledge of decision makers. An avid bike rider, Meeta, is a postgraduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, where her specialization was Business Journalism. She carries experience from mainstream print media including The Times Group and Sakal Media Group.
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