Coronavirus (COVID 19): the shopper reaction

Date : 19 March 2020

Rhian Thomas

Head of Insight - ShopperVista & FTG

We have all seen the media coverage of the stockpiling activity that has been taking place around the country as a result of the constantly evolving situation around Coronavirus (COVID-19). This activity is a very visible sign of the concern which shoppers are feeling however, these are not the only changes that are taking place. In this blog I will summarise five key changes we are seeing in shopper behavior and attitude at this time, you can find more detail in the report which we will be updating as the situation evolves.

1. Declining confidence

Predictably we have seen shopper financial confidence decline in recent weeks; 33% of shoppers expect to be financially worse off in the year ahead (1-14 March’20), compared to 25% in January 2020). Only 20% expect to be better off compared to 23% in January 2020.

Our full March data will be published in early April, you can find previous confidence data with our shopper sentiment tracking.

2. Less focus on quality

Shoppers are not planning to place the same emphasis on product quality when completing their shopping; 15% of shoppers planning to focus more on quality than saving money in the year ahead (1-14th March’20), compared to 20% in January’20.  

3. More main shops

So far this month we have seen an increase in larger, main shops and non-food shops. Over a third (34%) of shoppers told us that they were completing a main shop on their last trip compared to 31% in February. Over the same time period the proportion of shoppers completing a non-food mission has risen by 3% (21% to 24%).

4. Importance of choice and ease of shop

We are also seeing shoppers prioritise different factors when it comes to choosing where they shop; good choice and availability have increased amongst shopper considerations from 39% in February to 42% (1-14 March). Shoppers are more prepared to compromise on some elements of convenience with store location becoming less of a driver of store choice; falling from 60% in February to 53% to date in March.

5. Online growth

The growth in requests for online shopping is well known and we are seeing a steady increase in the proportion of shoppers telling us they are mainly using this channel to complete their shopping; 7% in February, 9% in the first week of March (1-7 March) and 10% between the 8 and 14 March.

We will be continuing to talk to British shoppers every day so that we can keep you up to date with the latest developments. Keep an eye on for more information