Pandemic-driven out-of-stocks, growing safety and financial concerns, and changing values have spurred shoppers to try different retailers and brands — and many U.S. shoppers plan to stay with their new-found alternatives, according to “Shoppers’ Response to COVID-19 and the Outlook for Change,” a new report by Advantage Sales, a division of Advantage Solutions.

Six in 10 shoppers chose to try an alternative to their primary retailer, either choosing another retailer’s brick-and-mortar store or online platform or Amazon during the pandemic, according to the report, which is based on the responses of 1,804 U.S. primary household shoppers and those who shared shopping responsibility participating in an online survey fielded between May 13 and May 18, 2020 by Advantage Sales’ Analytics, Insights & Intelligence team.

While many shoppers turned to other brick-and-mortar locations, guidance to stay at home, concern about contracting COVID-19 and in-store out-of-stocks led to a mass movement to online shopping on retailers’ websites or Amazon. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of surveyed shoppers reported they have ordered food and non-foods online since the start of the pandemic. Even though online shoppers faced website glitches, delivery delays and out-of-stocks, 15% of U.S. shoppers say they plan to make more than half of their food purchases online in the future.

Among the report’s other findings:

  • Out-of-stocks and a switch in retail locations spurred more than half (55%) of shoppers to stray from their preferred brands during the pandemic.
  • More than one-fourth (28%) of shoppers who switched brands said they expect to make a brand switch permanent.
  • Nearly six in 10 shoppers say they’re more likely to buy store brands than they were before the pandemic.

“Shoppers’ Response to COVID-19 and the Outlook for Change” includes an exploration of the pandemic’s impact on the way consumers shop and brand loyalty, plus a breakdown of implications of shoppers’ changing behavior for brands and retailers.

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