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How COVID-19 Has Changed Customer’s Shopping Behavior

The COVID-19 global pandemic is having a profound impact on consumers’ lives. As stay-at-home orders and country-wide lockdowns start to be eased, consumer behavior continues to be driven by new personal circumstances, such as changes in discretionary income and spare time, and reconsidered values and priorities.

In this article, we will examine the changing attitudes, behaviors and habits of consumers worldwide as they adapt to a new reality. We explore what consumers are buying and how they are shopping, and which of these changes are likely to continue in the longer term.

Customers adapt to new personal circumstances

Changes to disposable income and available leisure time are influencing consumers’ attitudes, behaviors and purchasing habits. For example, according to Accenture research, 33% of consumers are finding themselves ‘financially-squeezed’, with less disposable income compared to before the crisis, and are shopping more cost consciously, whereas 26% (the ‘Resource-Rich’) have increased both their disposable income and free time, and are enjoying new leisure pursuits.

In markets where the pandemic is stabilizing, economic concerns remain high, lowering consumer confidence. And although fears about health are gradually subsiding, consumers remain uncomfortable about visiting public places, although they are relatively more comfortable with familiar places such as grocery and pharmacy stores.

Customers adopt conscious and mindful purchasing habits

Consumers are more mindful than ever about what they are buying, and it is a mindset that is likely to continue. The majority (75%) are limiting food waste, and 67% are shopping more health-consciously. In both cases, 90% of these consumer groups are likely to continue with these habits. Demand for local goods is growing, as consumers seek out products they feel they can trust, and efficiency is also on consumers’ minds, as they are doing fewer and larger shopping trips

Customers embrace digital commerce

With lock-downs in place and many stores shuttered, ecommerce has surged. More and more traditional shoppers have adapted to such trend, especially in previously less-penetrated categories such as grocery. Consumers have also increased their use of omnichannel services like contactless payment, social commerce, virtual consultations and curbside pickup. It is a new behavior that they plan to continue.

Customers find creative ways to fill their time at home

With more time spent at home, consumers are engaging in new or renewed activities during their spare time. More than half (62%) are trying new recipes, 51% are spending time on home improvements, and 48% are embarking on new skills or online education. In each case, the vast majority expect to continue with these activities.

Families are welcoming the opportunity to spend more time together, and new ways of socializing are gaining popularity as people connect virtually. With many currently working from home, employees have embraced their new environments and many expect to continue or increase their time spent home working in the future.

The retail industry has experienced major disruptions in the past, but consumer preferences and shopping patterns have never shifted so quickly. As well as changing how they shop, the reasons why consumers shop has also changed forever. Retailers need to draw on data-driven insights to renew their relationship with consumers.

When it comes to restarting the economy, the lack of consumer confidence will pose an enormous challenge. Retailers need to build trust with consumers, such as implementing visible safety and hygiene measures for staff and customers in stores.

With the rise of the conscious consumer, and the intent to make environmental and ethical purchasing decisions, retailers need to build sustainability into the core of their businesses and look for new ways to grow.

Retailers need to improve shopping efficiency, both online and offline, and be ready to respond to rapidly shifting needs as the pandemic evolves. The increased use of digital requires retailers to substantially increase their investment in omnichannel capabilities.

Retailers have an opportunity to reset and rebuild their businesses. How they help consumers to get through the now and next of the pandemic will influence their success in the years ahead.


Cyclops is a retail analytics system that can help retailers generate insights into how their customers shop inside their stores. To understand more about how Cyclops can help retailers digitally transform their stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our website:


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