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Acosta: Concern Levels Remain High Amid Pandemic


Acosta, a full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods industry, has released its ninth insight report on the continuing evolution of consumer behavior and outlook amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, which found 37 percent of shoppers are spending more on each grocery trip now than they did pre-pandemic, also provides suggestions to help retailers best meet customers’ needs.

“With concern levels remaining high and rising in hot spots around the country, most consumers are choosing to stay home, even as many non-essential businesses reopen,” said Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta. “Shopping frequency has drastically declined since March, and with three-quarters of shoppers fearing another shutdown due to the second wave of the virus, shoppers will continue to eat at home for the foreseeable future. We expect the trends of stocking up and spending more on groceries to remain popular.”

Acosta’s ninth round of COVID-19 research, gathered via online surveys conducted between June 26 and July 1, provides insight into consumers’ concerns and habits as well as recommendations to help retailers prepare for the future, including:


Concern levels remain high

About half of shoppers are just as concerned about the pandemic as they were at the start, and many have become more concerned recently, including 44 percent of shoppers in the South, where cases are rising.

Three-quarters of shoppers are worried that a second wave could lead to another shutdown.

Despite many non-essential businesses reopening, most consumers are not visiting them. Only 37 percent of shoppers have gone to retail shops, 30 percent to hair/nail salons and 27 percent to dine-in restaurants.


Shopping less, spending more

Grocery shopping frequency has greatly declined since the start of the pandemic. Shopping once a week or more has declined 20 percent (from 67 percent of shoppers to 47 percent of shoppers).

Shopping less frequently has increased since the pandemic began, with 27 percent of shoppers now going to the grocery store two to three times a month and 26 percent going once a month or less.

When shoppers do go to the store, they are stocking up and spending more.

Thirty-seven percent of shoppers reported spending more on each grocery trip now vs. pre-COVID-19.

When looking at total household spending, 50 percent of shoppers are spending more on groceries. Conversely, 66 percent of shoppers are spending less on eating out than they did pre-pandemic.

Of shoppers spending more on groceries, 59 percent cited eating at home more as their reason, 52 percent cited higher prices and 50 percent cited stocking up more.


Recommendations for retailers

Retailers should make meal prep easy for shoppers with cross-department meal solutions, heat-and-serve meal kits and bundle pricing for meal components.

Retailers can promote shopper engagement through recipe contests and staycation/picnic photo submissions in exchange for loyalty points.

Retailers should leverage digital marketing to optimize reach and relevancy to all shoppers.

Acosta’s research was gathered via online surveys using the company’s proprietary shopper community between June 26 and July 1. To access the full report, visit acosta.com/news.

Acosta will continue to conduct research and will share updated data and recommendations for retailers and manufacturers on how to best meet consumers’ needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the previous insight report, click here.

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