Will Grocery Shopping Habits Really Change As A Result of Covid-19?

grocery shopping habits

According to Marketing Week new data shows changes to the way people shop for groceries on foot of Covid-19 . But will grocery shopping habits really change long term?

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Growth in Online Grocery Sales

online groceries shopping

Data from Kantar shows that online grocery sales has jumped from 7.4% to 10.2% in the UK (April compared to March 2020) while in Ireland, online sales of groceries grew by 26.6% in March, up €6M in comparison to March 2019.

That still leaves a huge percentage of grocery sales being made in store. And certainly in Ireland the message from the supermarkets has been to leave online delivery to those who need it more, the elderly or essential workers.

In January 2020, we asked women about online vs offline shopping and at that time only 5% of respondents were buying their groceries online. At that time, they said things like,

  • “Living out the country one cannot get groceries delivered.”
  • “I shop in store for groceries so I can use my Dunnes vouchers”
  • “I like to do groceries myself so I can pick what I’m getting like the freshest veg and bread and that the expiry dates are good.”

This week, we asked our panel what they thought of online grocery shopping and how that might change:

“I’ve been doing a big grocery shop now every 10 days or so instead of weekly. I haven’t bought anything online.”

“I order online from my local Supervalu using their click and collect service. This avoids me taking a delivery spot others may need, but means I don’t have to go in-store.”

In the UK, Sainsbury’s outgoing boss Mike Coupe said, “When people get into the habit of ordering their groceries online it’s likely to be sticky. Almost a third of our sales are now through SmartShop and once you’ve used it once and got used to it I suspect you won’t go back to the usual checkout.”

We’re not sure about this, our panel is telling us that they prefer to see the produce and check dates. Also supporting local suppliers has become important to people:

“I am also making an effort to support local suppliers and hope to continue this.”

Don’t Miss: What Women Think About Online Shopping

Frequency of Shopping

Apparently, the weekly shop is back, so while we are shopping less frequently we are spending more at the basket. For example, the weekly number of transactions at Tesco nearly halved in April but the average basket size doubled.

“People are shopping once a week, a little like they did 10 or 15 years ago, rather than two, three or four times a week that was happening before the crisis,” said Tesco boss Dave Lewis.

This has been the feedback of our panel members. For example,

“I am now trying to just do one big shop a week and try to avoid “nipping” into shops to buy a few things in between each big shop.”

“I used to shop nearly every day. Now I’m trying to only shop once a week.”

People also used to shop in multiple places but are doing that less:

“We used to do our shopping through click & collect with Tesco however at the moment we go instore. We also would do a top up and fruit / veg shop in Lidl or Aldi but this has practically stopped as I really don’t have the patience to be queuing for only a few items.”

New Players Move Online

Aldi has started selling groceries online for the first time in the UK, it is selling food parcels for sale online for £24.99 including delivery, containing 22 products including tinned soup, rice and pasta  as well as antibacterial handwash and toilet paper. Aldi has previously only sold their ‘Special Buys’ range of non-food items, and wine online in the UK.

So far we haven’t seen any noises from Aldi Ireland. Could we also see the arrival of Dunnes Stores groceries online at some point?

woman food shopping

When We Buy

Friday and Saturday remain the most popular days to go shopping, but the proportion of trips made Monday to Thursday has gone up.

Given schools are closed until September and most workplaces til end of summer, the shift to other days is likely to continue.

Shifts in Category Spend

According to Kantar, people are spending more on take-home groceries but less on other categories like clothes, on-the-go food, and general merchandise.

The latest retail data shows that 50% of households in Ireland bought baking supplies in recent weeks, with flour sales up 52% and sugar sales rising by 43%.

Sales of ethnic ingredients have also increased by 41% and herbs and spices by 61%.

“Now that I have more time to cook I’m cooking more from scratch.”

“I find that we are buying a lot more food with the kids here all the time and we use a lot more food”

When things ease and reopen we could see a big change there:

“I plan to spend money on clothes after lockdown.”

“The first thing I’m doing after this is over is heading to town to get honey chili chicken”

Here is what we think is coming or represents an opportunity for the grocery retailers:

  • Click and Collect, the hybrid between the instore and the online experience. We’re already seeing that roll out in Ireland in more than one supermarket chain.
  • Belts may need to tighten with job losses and reduced incomes so savvy shopping and take up on offers could rise. Shopping with a list will continue and awareness of impulse buying may heighten to keep weekly household food costs down.
  • Food shopping for relatives as well as for the household will continue.
  • Shopping locally, supporting local suppliers and being more aware of where food comes from. Buying Irish is going to matter even more.
  • Innovations in technology – e.g. check stock before going to the shops.

As we move into new phases post-lockdown, it will be interesting to see what changes stick. Bread baking is perhaps here to stay!

Would you like tailored insights for your brand? Use our panels of engaged women and our dedicated private platform to gather critical insights to help influence women to deliver long term profitability. Contact us now to find how we can help.

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