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Shopping Routine Study: Americans Stocking Up – and Spending Less

Americans still hunkering down on retail spending - with no end in sight.

With the COVID-19 pandemic reaching its sixth month in the U.S., we’re starting to see some consumer financial shopping habits firm up.

Case in point – a new study from Shopkick (rhymes with drop kick) that shows consumer shopping habits across the country “continue to shift -- whether it is stocking up, tightening budgets or visiting reopened retailers and businesses.”

According to Shopkick, a shopping rewards app company as cases spike, more consumers say they are stocking up on essentials (59 percent) compared to when they were asked in early June (53 percent). Despite increased concerns and massive COVID surges in states like Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, the vast majority of state residents (92 percent) say they are still shopping in-store.

(The survey of more than 12,000 consumers was conducted July 14-20, 2020.)

Here are some eye-opening takeaways from the study:

· Still Stocking Up: Household essentials have been flying off the shelves since the pandemic first hit in March, and months later, most consumers are still stocking their pantries. More people (59 percent) are stocking up now as compared to June (53 percent), purchasing items such as food and water (87 percent), toiletries (81 percent), cleaning supplies (68 percent), hand sanitizer and soap (65 percent), medicine and/or medical items (48 percent) and animal supplies (37 percent).

· Sparing Spenders: As the economic impact of COVID-19 continues to affect consumers’ budgets, the majority (54 percent) say they are now spending less than at the start of the pandemic, compared to only 26 percent who reported decreased spending in June. When asked to compare spending to this time last year, 62 percent say they are spending less.

· Reopened Retailers: With more widespread reopenings, 89 percent of consumers say non-essential retailers have reopened in their local area (compared to 70 percent in June), while more than half (52 percent) have already visited these retailers (compared to 37 percent in June). Of those who have visited non-essential retailers, 58 percent have hit apparel, shoe and accessories stores, followed by restaurants and bars (55 percent), and beauty stores (39 percent).

· Worth the Wait: For those who have not visited reopened retailers yet (48 percent), 65 percent say they plan to wait more than one month to visit, a 20 percent increase over June.


“Hottest” Shopping States: Arizona, California, Texas Most Active, Shopping-Wise

· Staying In-Store: Across five states experiencing particularly high spikes of the virus, an average of 92 percent of consumers say they or a member of their household is still visiting physical retailers to fulfill essential shopping needs. On average, nearly three out of four consumers (74 percent) from these states are taking one to two shopping trips per week, which is either about the same or less often than one month ago.

· Stocking Up By State: As these states experience greater numbers of COVID cases, rates for stocking up on essentials are generally higher than the national average. While Californians match the national numbers (59 percent) more Floridians, Georgians, and Texans report stocking up (64 percent, 62 percent, and 60 percent, respectively), while Arizonians actually report slightly lower rates (55 percent).

· Big Box vs. Grocery Stores: Most Georgians and Floridians are visiting grocery stores to purchase essentials (91 percent and 87 percent, respectively). Meanwhile, Arizonians, Californians, and Texans (85 percent, 84 percent and 86 percent, respectively) are more likely to head to big box stores like Target and Walmart.

· Dining and Dressing: Arizonians and Californians are most likely to visit restaurants and bars once they reopen in their local area (50 percent and 51 percent, respectively), while Georgians are most likely to visit apparel and shoe stores (60 percent). Meanwhile, Floridians and Texans are nearly equally split between wanting to visit restaurants and bars (45 percent and 42 percent, respectively) or apparel and shoe stores (44 percent and 45 percent, respectively).

Consumers Stressed Out?

The stocking and staying home theme is expected to hang around a while – maybe even after the pandemic ends.

“It’s a stressful time for consumers and retailers everywhere as concerns grow alongside case numbers,” said David Fisch, general manager of Shopkick. “While we don’t know when we will get to the other side of the pandemic, we do know that more people are stocking up, shopping in-store and spending less compared to months prior.”