Acosta finds shoppers have mixed views on when life will return to ‘normal’

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —  Acosta has released its fifth round of research providing insight into the continuing evolution of consumer behavior and outlook amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as some states and counties begin to reopen. The report, which found just over half of shoppers expect life to return to normal in less than six months, also provides guidance to help retailers and manufacturers navigate the current climate and prepare for the future.

“Three months into the pandemic, consumers are not surprisingly seeking the light at the end of the tunnel, but not all are optimistic about, or supportive of, a quick return to normalcy due to continuing health concerns,” said Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta. “With shoppers settling into their new routines, ‘normal’ life will not look like pre-COVID-19 life, at least not entirely. Our research shows that bringing reusable bags to stores may become a thing of the past and using hand sanitizer and masks while shopping is likely to remain common practice even after the pandemic subsides.”

Acosta’s most recent COVID-19 research report, gathered via online surveys conducted between May 3 and May 5, provides insight into consumers’ habits and concerns, as well as recommendations for retailers and manufacturers, including:

When Will Life Return to “Normal”?

  • Just over half of shoppers (51%) expect life to return to normal in less than six months, while more than a quarter (29%) believe it will take more than a year.
  • Millennials (65%) and Southerners (54%) are the most optimistic about life returning to normal in less than six months.
  • Shoppers have differing opinions on state reopening plans. Forty-three percent believe their state is reopening on a reasonable schedule; 39% believe their state is reopening too soon; and 13% don’t think their state is reopening fast enough.

New In-Store Behaviors Becoming Routine

  • Sixty-eight percent of shoppers reported using hand sanitizer before or after shopping.
  • Sixty-six percent of shoppers reported wearing a mask while shopping. Mask usage has doubled since early April and is most popular among shoppers in the Northeast.
  • Nearly half of shoppers (49%) reported shopping during off-peak hours to avoid crowds.
  • A third of shoppers (34%) opted to use self-checkout.

High Demand for Meat

  • Shoppers are stocking up on meat products because they are cooking more meals at home (34%), concerned about shortages (31%), minimizing their number of store trips (31%) and concerned about higher prices on future trips (21%).
  • Chicken was the most popular choice with 47% of shoppers stocking up on it, and beef (45%) and fish (39%) round out the top three.
  • Fifty-three percent of shoppers noticed purchase limits when buying meat; 46% noticed out-of-stocks; and 35% noticed higher prices.

Acosta’s research was gathered via online surveys using the company’s proprietary shopper community between May 3 and 5, 2020. The report also includes comparison data from online surveys conducted between April 17 and 23April 3 and 7, March 20 and 29 and March 6 and 12, 2020. To access the full report, visit www.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 and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


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