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A Year with COVID-19 and the Evolution of the Shopper

December 30, 2020 | AppCard Team

As we near the end of 2020, the AppCard team is reflecting on the events of the last 12 months, but especially on how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the behavior of the typical shopper. We are amazed at the changes this pandemic caused and awed by the speed at which grocers and shoppers had to adapt to changes that could not have been predicted. There is much that can be discussed, but we’ll focus on three aspects:

Where do shoppers now shop?

Online shopping had been growing steadily well before the pandemic, but the fear of catching the virus has greatly influenced shoppers to accelerate that trend. During the height of the pandemic (and perhaps again as we enter the winter months), shoppers desired to spend less time in a crowded store and more time in the perceived safety of their homes. This has driven the need for online shopping options and contactless pick-up to heights not yet seen before. Large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are re-configuring their parking lots to accommodate their shoppers who wish to stay out of the stores and receive their groceries from the safety of their vehicles. Grocery and restaurant delivery services have seen tremendous success in this coronavirus era. Independent retailers should take note of these trends and consider how they can similarly help (or win back) their customers who may desire this new level of “safe and contactless” service.

How do shoppers now shop?

We have already spoken of the growth of online shopping, but it is also important to note that shoppers have also altered their purchase behavior to accommodate their current situation which will vary based on each individual set of circumstances.. Some shoppers may be victims of job loss or reduced salaries, thereby forcing them to be more frugal and buy items that are less expensive than what they were in the habit of buying before. Additionally, shoppers have become more conscious of how much they buy. While finances may be tight, some are opting to focus on stocking up on items that were once assumed to be plentiful before the pandemic. Who would have predicted a toilet paper shortage from this situation? Who would have imagined that Lysol and bleach would be coveted items for months? The fear of reliving that prior experience motivates these new behaviors in shoppers. For the independent grocer, this could be an opportunity to provide their top shoppers with assurances that they will keep these items on hand for them.

What do shoppers now shop for?

Lastly, the mix of products that shoppers are purchasing has also varied in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cleaning supplies, homemade meals, nourishing prepared foods, and health care supplies have been added to more shopping baskets than before. The same is true for alcoholic beverages. Some shoppers who fear getting COVID-19 are eating better to boost their immunity. And those who cannot socialize with friends and family in a social
gathering or local bars are opting to do their drinking at home. Will these changes last? It’s hard to say at this point. Wise grocers will have to monitor sales trends carefully to meet the needs of their shoppers, while also understanding that those needs may vary from shopper to shopper based on individual situations.
The AppCard team is thankful for many things despite the rapid changes and inconveniences brought on by COVID-19. We are proud to have been able to support and provide continuous service to our valued clients during this difficult time. We deeply appreciate our partners continued support now and in the better days ahead.

From all of us at AppCard, we would like to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2021!

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