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  • Writer's pictureSteven Nichols

The Pandemic Continues to Shape Consumer Shopping Habits

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

There is a lot of uncertainty out there with 76% of people rating the state of the economy as ‘Not Good/Poor’ and a recession officially upon us. From COVID-19 to a historic period of political unrest, a lot is going on, and it is having an impact on retail. While some categories are experiencing record declines, products such as bread makers, puzzles, sewing machines and fabric have sold more in the last three months than they have in the last three years! At my local Walmart, it is yeast that is regularly out instead of toilet paper, and there has not been a puzzle in stock for weeks.

Sidelined salons caused a huge spike in at home hair color kits. And maybe a new vacuum, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, home organization and gardening/lawn care supplies to make your home office/daycare/grade school/etc. clean, cozy, and functional for the new normal. People are cooking more and starting new hobbies while they juggle remote work with at-home learning. Can you find ways to meet your consumers where they are? They may be temporarily unemployed, working remotely on their laptops, or trying to teach their kids from home. They are spending their nights cooking new meals and their weekends making sourdough, sewing cloths masks and looking for the edge pieces as they start their newest 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

The economic downturn is causing a familiar trend that we saw in 2008-09 as well; people are tightening their pocketbooks. People are saving more than ever before with the personal savings rate reaching 33%, and increasingly choosing retailers like Walmart and Sam’s Club (which reported surging earnings last month), where they know they can stretch their dollar. They’re flocking to stores even in a pandemic, but increasingly, also turning to Walmart through their phones to avoid those same crowds. The Walmart Grocery app experienced a 460% growth in downloads since January 2020, surpassing Amazon as the most downloaded app. At the same time, Walmart announced plans to combine their Online and Grocery app platforms to streamline user experience. Along with their 4,750 retail locations, streamlining their digital platforms reduces confusion and can give them a leg up on Amazon. This also creates an opportunity for smart manufacturers. Is your content optimized on Do you have right product images and lifestyle shots, keywords, and enriched content to help consumers find and choose your brand/items on a crowded digital shelf?

We aren’t going to be inside forever and many states are already easing restrictions and entering “phase 2” of re-opening despite many states experiencing huge spikes in confirmed COVID19 cases.

With political turmoil likely to continue until November or beyond, we should not count on being be back to “normal” anytime soon. If you didn’t have the foresight to start a personal grooming, cleaning supplies or puzzle making company in January, there are still many opportunities to meet customers where they are. Many consumers are looking for new products for their families to try, new ways to pass their time, and to make the most of a difficult situation. New Nexus Group can help. During these uncertain times, we’d love to work with you connect the dots, get the right products on shelves, optimize your e-commerce offerings, and add a little joy to everyone’s life.


Article Written By:

Steven Nichols

Retail Strategist at New Nexus Group

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