2020 brought many changes in how we behave as consumers – some of these changes were more forced, some of them were more organic, but clearly the question on everybody’s mind in retail is “which of the changes will stick even when the pandemic is over?”

In June and July of 2020 IPC ran a domestic e-commerce shopper survey which included several questions on COVID-19. The key findings were:

  • 52% of consumers had bought more online from domestic e-retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic and 21% of consumers reported buying significantly more – this was the highest in Portugal and in the US.
  • 27% of consumers had bought more groceries online during the COVID-19 pandemic and the biggest increase in online shopping for groceries was reported in the UK with 30% consumers buying more.
  • 49% of consumers agreed that COVID-19 means that they will shop more online in future.

Other companies also went directly to consumers to find the answers. After researching the US consumers, McKinsey & Company concluded that the changes that will stay long-term are the following:

  • Flight to online
  • Shock to loyalty
  • Need for hygiene transparency
  • Back to basics and value
  • Rise of the homebody economy

A few months into COVID-19, consumer shopping online has increased significantly across many categories. Consumer intent to shop online continues to increase, especially in essentials and home-entertainment categories. More interestingly, these habits seem like they’re going to stick as US consumers report an intent to shop online even after the COVID-19 crisis. Categories where expected growth in online shoppers exceeds 35% include essentials such as over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, groceries, household supplies, and personal-care products. Even discretionary categories such as skin care and makeup, apparel, and jewellery and accessories show expected customer growth of more than 15%.

Millennials and high-income earners are in the lead when it comes to shopping online

While the shift to online shopping has been near universal across categories, high-income earners and millennials are leading the way in shifting spend online across both essential and nonessential items. Gen X has experienced a similar online shift, although not at the same scale as millennials. Gen Z has concentrated its shift online in particular categories: apparel and footwear, at-home entertainment, and food takeout/delivery.



Access the full 2020 IPC Domestic E-Commerce Shopper Survey here - ipc.be/services/markets-and-regulations/e-commerce-market-insights/domestic-shopper-survey

Read the McKinsey & Company article “The great consumer shift: Ten charts that show how US shopping behavior is changing” here.