Canadian consumers will be more likely to resume normal grocery shopping, but will likely remain wary of malls as COVID concerns abate in the next months, according to research from Ipsos.
In a webinar Understanding Emerging Consumer Behaviour released June 23, Ipsos released a summary of consumer attitudes that attempted to forecast which of the temporary measures consumers have adopted will remain part of the new normal until a COVID vaccine is broadly available.
While independent small businesses have certainly struggled, the research results were somewhat optimistic, suggesting 30 per cent of Canadians expect to shop more at local small businesses as the pandemic eases. These stores were viewed as more safe than malls, and rated highly as something “people expect them to do”. Malls were considered among the least safe, least family friendly and one of the “happy to avoid” activities for the near future.
On the other hand, grocery shopping is more likely to return to normal as COVID concerns decrease. While use of online shopping and delivery has increased substantially, in-store shopping was evaluated as taking less effort, more likely to make consumers happy and a missed activity. Online grocery shopping was considered safer, but also taking more effort.
The research tested 36 different activities that may have changed during the pandemic (grocery shopping, travel, trying on clothes in a store, etc) and then about 30 different attitudes about these activities (Is it safe? Does it make you happy?). Ipsos found two “drivers of behaviour” — ease and importance — were consistent across the activities and help understand which behaviours might change in the future. Activities that were both high ease and high importance were identified as the “stickiest”, likely to be around for the next 12 to 18 months. This category included online banking, doing extra home cleaning, working from home, shopping at grocery stores and shopping at smaller, local merchants.
High-ease, low-importance activities were called “sticky for now” and included many online shopping categories, meal delivery and online meetings. The only activity presented in the “low-ease, high-import” category was trying on clothes in a store. The final quadrant of low-ease, low-importance activities included recreation such as movies, sporting events, air travel, going to a mall, visiting bank branches. These were judged to have more limited appeal for the next 12 to 18 months.
Among other findings released:
- 43% of Canadians think it will be at least the winter before they resume normal, pre-COVID activities
- 77% said when they do shop in stores, they spend less time browsing because they want to get in and out quickly.
- 35% said shopping online is a good replacement for the shopping they did in store.
- One in five shoppers have had an issue with an online order, commonly slow delivery times and items out of stock.
- At least half of Canadians thought personal protection equipment would be necessary for future air travel, public transportation, ride sharing, entertainment and sporting events, in-person shopping and banking.