How our grocery shopping habits have changed
The pandemic has caused consumers’ shopping behaviour and product choices to shift. Here's how.
It’s been a year since COVID-19 entered our lives and even though the grocery sector has been evolving, the rate of change is likely to escalate in the near future, being heavily influenced by e-commerce and the disruption of independent meal-kit brands.
When South Africa entered its nationwide level 5 hard lockdown on 27 March 2020, people’s behaviour immediately shifted to at-home consumption. This trend is predicted to continue as people spend more time working from home.
Due to the financial impact, South Africans will continue to see a reduction in income and spending, which makes sense given that most are looking for more ways to save.
Supermarkets have had to quickly adapt and innovate to remain relevant. Euromonitor International says that consumer purchases will not be driven by personal choice but by necessity as downtrading becomes more entrenched. The long-term economic impact of COVID-19 will be the deprioritisation of premium as economic uncertainty remains over the medium term.
Think with Google reports that while there has been an uplift in online purchases for slow-moving goods like electronics, beauty products, clothing and homeware, offline remained the main purchase channel for fast-moving goods, which were still available in grocery shops.
Here are some of the key behaviour changes when it comes to buying groceries:
Deloitte Insights shares that half of shoppers globally still don’t feel safe going to the store. The stress of potentially contracting COVID-19 is still driving people to avoid public spaces like supermarkets.
Shopping less frequently
Before the pandemic, many customers would buy their groceries multiple times a week but are now shopping less – usually only once a week or once every two weeks.
Remember when everyone went mad buying toilet paper and flour before the beginning of the lockdown? It appears that the stocking-up trend is still taking place, which means that people are still keeping more food on hand than they need (leading to stores often being out of stock of certain items). Euromonitor International says: “Impulse purchases have been negatively affected, with fewer, higher value and more targeted shopping trips the new norm.”
Buying more frozen food
Due to the fact that so much fresh food was often out of stock, people have been forced to buy different brands or products to what they were used to purchasing previously.
More people are downloading shopping apps
According to Think with Google, 35% of all South African consumers now have shopping apps installed on their phones, compared to 30% in 2019. This could be because more retailers have jumped onboard the shopping app train. Read about our recent comparison of Checkers Sixty60, Bottles by Pick n Pay and Woolies Dash. Euromonitor International says that for shoppers in South Africa, speed is the most important factor in their purchasing decision, followed by convenience, price and stock availability.
It will be interesting to see how these shopper priorities will shape the landscape of our country’s grocery sector in the months and years to come.