By Steve Markenson, Director, Research, FMI
Americans coping with new realities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic are experiencing increased uncertainty and anxiety about their food procurement. These worries are driven by a combination of a growing concern about the spread of the virus and the resulting impact the disease and preventive measures are having on the job market. While shoppers are dealing with various levels of out-of-stocks and changes in their grocery shopping experiences, they give their grocery store positive ratings.
Since March 21, 2020, FMI has conducted online surveys with grocery shoppers to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the perceptions and behaviors of grocery shoppers. The results of our first week of surveying from March 21 to 26 provided some baseline information about shoppers’ initial reactions as this crisis unfolded. Now, we have some findings based on our second week of surveys that allow us to explore shopper concerns and how they are reacting.
Concern about COVID-19 grows
From our first week (March 21 to 26) to our second week of surveys (March 28 to April 2), shopper concern about COVID-19 has increased (74% extremely or very concerned, up from 69%) and the level of disruption to their lives continues to be high (64% extremely or very disrupted). Some of these disruptions are less impactful, such as changes in work location and who lives in the household. However, in the most recent survey, almost four in ten adults live in a household with a reduction in employment (39%, up from 33%), including reduced working hours or income (31%), and job loss (12%).
Uncertainty leads to anxiety
A majority of shoppers (60%) express some level of concern about their ability to have enough food for their households in the coming weeks, with 33% being extremely or very concerned. One-fourth of Americans (25%) are especially worried about having enough money to pay for food. Questions about the emerging job market have resulted in these anxieties and uncertainties impacting households across income levels.
Shoppers change their shopping habits
As highlighted in our report from Week 1, grocery shoppers are changing the where, how and who of their grocery shopping habits. As see in our most recent survey, the shoppers who are most concerned about feeding their families are even more likely to make changes in their shopping habits. These shoppers are more likely to shop online (64%), have changed who in the household shops (38%), shop faster (38%) and shop at fewer stores (35%).
Food Retailers get high marks in a difficult time
While shoppers say their grocery stores have some (49%) or many (38%) products out of stock, they continue to give their grocery store high ratings for their response to the current situation (69% top three on a 10-point scale, up from 65%). Similarly, most shoppers (69%) say their primary grocery store is on their side.
As shoppers continue adjust to a new reality, FMI will be continuing to track consumer attitudes and perceptions over the coming weeks and months through our U. S. Grocery Shoppers Trends COVID-19 tracking surveys.