Fear and loathing in the grocery store is letting up.
The latest survey by 6 Degrees Integrated Communications (week ending May 10) found that while 67% of grocery shoppers are still nervous about heading to stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a 10% drop from the last survey period (week ending April 26).
Shoppers are also feeling positive about the safety precautions retailers have taken, with 71% saying they are “very” or “mostly” satisfied with the measures, and 25% saying they are “okay” with them.
“I think what we’re seeing is the emergence of habit and the emergence of a new normal,” says Adrianne Gaffney Wotherspoon, EVP operations and chief strategist at 6 Degrees, which has been surveying 500 household shoppers regularly since the lockdown began. “We all know anecdotally that it takes a certain amount of time for adaptation to happen and I think that is what we’re seeing. People are saying, ‘I now understand that this is going to be the new way we’re going to shop.’”
The survey found that 61% are still stocking up more now than usual, but they’re also trading up to larger product formats. More than one third (36%) have been buying larger sizes (bulk or jumbo multi-packs) more often now than prior to the pandemic.
Why are they upsizing? The survey found that 88% are trying to reduce shop frequency to restock; 83% believe it’s a better value and they’re trying to save money when they can; and 66% say their household is consuming more/going through these products more than before.
Shoppers are also gravitating towards healthier foods: 44% are stocking up on healthier products than normal and 43% are stocking up on fresh produce—the highest since the lockdown.
While switching to healthier eating habits in spring and summer is typical behaviour, Gaffney Wotherspoon says it’s also pandemic related. At the beginning, shoppers stocked up on foods with a longer shelf life out of fear that stores were either going to run out of products or close, she says. “But as a result of that not happening and less fear that that’s going to be the case, people are feeling better about buying more fresh foods.”