JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — Consumer priorities have shifted away from pantry staples and toward comfort foods as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, new data from Acosta revealed.
Sweets, frozen pizza and salty snacks are now at the top of consumers’ shopping lists, the company found in its third round of COVID-19 grocery shopper research.
“We’re still seeing new trends form week-to-week,” said Darian Pickett, chief executive officer at Acosta.
Concern over the pandemic continued escalating in early April, especially among older households and those in hard-hit areas.
“We’re also seeing trends solidify,” Pickett said. “Our research shows that shopper concern continues to increase as weeks go by.”
Acosta’s first shopper survey from March 6 to March 12 found the average level of concern was 6.9 out of 10. Since then, the number has risen to 8.2.
Growing concern has led to further declines in grocery store visits. Shoppers made 52% fewer in-store trips during the first week of April. Online grocery has continued to surge, with more than half of shoppers placing an order between March 10 and April 7. One in three consumers made their first online order during the period, up 5% from Acosta’s previous report.
While less than a third of consumers said they planned to buy meals from restaurants, those who did were more likely to use drive-thru (38%) and takeout (36%) than delivery (24%).
The report also provided a preview of post-pandemic consumer behavior. More than two thirds of shoppers said they will likely return to their normal grocery habits once the pandemic is over. Around half said they will return to their normal eating habits, and the same amount plan to continue eating at home more than they used to. Thirty-one percent said they will continue using more online grocery pickup and delivery services.