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FMI Signature Consumer Research Evaluates Impact of COVID-19 on Grocery Shopper Habits

Source: FMI

ARLINGTON, Va.- FMI — The Food Industry Association today releases its annual U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report, which extensively tracks consumer grocery shopping habits. Prepared by The Hartman Group, the 2020 report provides a clear picture of grocery shopping habits before the pandemic, attitude shifts that took place during COVID-19 and offers a glimpse of what might come next for the food industry.

A Clear Change in Shopper Habits

Prior to the pandemic, U.S. grocery shopper trends were following a familiar pattern. Weekly household trips to the grocery store remained high, at 2.7 trips per week, and shoppers continued to utilize several different channels (4.1) and banners (5.0) to meet their monthly grocery needs. In the early weeks of COVID-19, we saw weekly trips to the grocery store by households increase to 3.6, while 40% of shoppers reported they were shopping fewer stores for their household grocery needs.

The Rise of Online

In early 2020, 14.5% of grocery spending was online, a significant increase over the previous year. However, COVID-19 greatly accelerated the move to online grocery shopping with online spending doubling to 27.9% of all grocery spending during March and April. Many shoppers are new to online grocery shopping and have been willing to break previous barriers, including 12% reporting purchasing fresh produce online for the first time.

A Desire to Cook and Eat More at Home

Nearly all families (87%) report eating together as important and the COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified this value. Some younger shoppers, namely 48% of Gen Z and millennials, say they are eating healthier during the pandemic. Forty-one percent of shoppers surveyed report cooking more, and 42% are minimizing trips to the store or using perishables before they spoil. Before the pandemic nearly all (90%) grocery shoppers reported dining out sometimes, but during March and April only 45% of shoppers reported utilizing restaurant delivery while 35% reported cooking at home six to seven days a week.

The Future of the Food Industry

“In looking toward the future, most consumers expect to return to their pre-pandemic levels of in-store grocery shopping and more than a fourth of consumers expect to be ordering more groceries online in the future,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI. “The food industry will continue to listen to consumers and let them guide us on how to best meet their changing household needs. Whatever comes next, we know the supply chain is tremendously resilient and that we can flex, pivot and accommodate the demands of the nation’s grocery shoppers.”