Acosta: Consumers mixed on when grocery shopping will return to post-pandemic normalcy

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / Drazen Zigic
©GettyImages / Drazen Zigic

Related tags: Acosta, coronavirus, COVID-19, Grocery shopping

While many states emerge from several weeks of shelter-in-place mandates and businesses begin to reopen, many consumers feel their usual shopping behaviors won’t return to “normal” for some time, an Acosta report revealed.

Acosta’s research was gathered via online surveys using the company’s proprietary shopper community between May 3 and 5, 2020, and includes comparison data from online surveys conducted between April 17 and 23, April 3 and 7, March 20 and 29, and March 6 and 12, 2020.

The report​ found just over half (51%) of shoppers expect life to return to normal in less than six months, while 29% believe it will take more than a year. By demographic, 65% millennials (compared to 41% of baby boomers) and 54% of consumers living in the South were optimistic about life returning to normal in less than six months.

“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.

According to the report, 56% of baby boomers and roughly half of consumers in the North (52%) believe it will take more than six months.  

Many (39%) consumers felt that their state is reopening too soon while 43% felt their state is opening on a reasonable schedule, and 13% believer their state is ‘not reopening fast enough,’ Acosta found.


Shopping behaviors post-pandemic: ‘Using hand sanitizer and masks while shopping is likely to remain common practice’

The report found that the majority of consumers have adapted to new in-store behaviors, such as using hand sanitizer before or after shopping (68% of consumers), wearing a mask (66%), and shopping during off-peak hours (49%). Just over one-third (34%) of shoppers used a retailer’s self-checkout option as a precautionary measure.

Mask usage has doubled since early April and is most popular among shoppers in the Northeast, according to 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,”​ said Pickett.

Demand for meat remains high

Shoppers reported stocking up on more meat products as 34% are cooking more meals at home. Consumers are also stocking up on more meat during their shopping trips due to concerns over product shortages (31%) and as a way to minimize store visits (31%).

According to the report, 53% of shoppers noticed purchase limits when buying meat, 46% noticed out-of-stocks, and 35% noticed higher prices when purchasing meat product.

Chicken was the most in-demand meat product with 47% of shoppers stocking up on the protein, followed by beef (45%), fish (39%), turkey (37%), and pork (32%).

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