Grocery stores: Champions of this new era.

TailWind brings you Covid-19 insights from GlobalWebIndex, a leading market research company operating in 45 markets inclusive of MENA. Tailwind, a TDG Company, is the exclusive partner for GlobalWebIndex in the region, bringing local businesses powerful consumer insights.

Grocery stores; champions of this new era.

It’s an undeniable fact that we’ve all had to adjust to a new reality during this COVID-19 pandemic. Everything changed, unavoidably affecting the way people shop – easily observed by their current purchasing behaviour. The recent multimarket study by Globalwebindex using the very latest COVID-19 data available here, analyses consumers’ buying behaviour during the pandemic while setting expectations from retail companies in terms of shop measures.

Unsurprisingly, Grocery purchases were the first to witness an uptick across various product categories.

Our data confirms that due to the pandemic, consumers are more prone to stock-pile certain items that they wouldn’t under usual circumstances. Almost half of the consumers in the US and 1/3 of UK consumers responded that they buy specific items such as household cleaning, personal hygiene products and foods with longer shelf life, like rice and pasta.

The data above is in line with news that comes from many Saudi Arabian countries. Hypermarkets such as Carrefour and many major retailers in the kingdom such as BinDawood Holding have witnessed a spike in demand of non-perishable products, reporting that consumers are buying more household cleaning and personal hygiene goods (source)

Brands fight to keep up with increased online demand

But the question remains: Why do consumers feel the need to purchase more? It seems that in their majority, respondents stated that this is a way for them to avoid going to the grocery store too often. This attitude has translated to a shift to e-commerce, not only seen in the US and UK. In fact, more and more consumers are ordering online as certain retailers in the Gulf region report a phenomenal increase to their online sales (source).

The second reason consumers buy more products from specific categories is that they feel uncertain about the availability of them (46% in the U.S. and 45% in the UK). This urge drives consumers to pictures we have all seen recently in the news with long queues at the supermarkets and grocery stores stripped bare of goods. To prevent these behaviours, governments feel the need to take measures that will help their citizens tackle this challenge. In the UK, the British Retail Consortium published a message to all British citizens advising them to remain calm and ensuring that essential good supplies are adequate (source). In the Gulf region, the Dubai government is collaborating with major retailers, where the latter offer free spaces to suppliers to promote the sale of essential goods for two months starting April 9. (source)

Overall, it seems COVID- 19 might have changed consumers’ purchasing behaviour for good, by encouraging preparation by bulk buying core items and buying online more, reducing outings to stores. This change of attitude is tied with one specific need: consumers want to keep themselves and others safe. It’s therefore crucial that retail companies pay attention and implement strategies that will ensure consumers’ safety but also maintain viability of their businesses. For example, even the smaller grocery shops should provide consumers with the ability to order online or create more ways to do their shopping quickly. Where this is clearly time or cost effective to implement, retailers should strategise for quick wins; increasing availability of time slots available for consumers to book or give the option to order them and pick up their groceries at the door thus keeping consumers safe by reducing trips to unnecessarily crowded places.

Tailwind and GlobalWebIndex are strongly committed to keeping Covid-19 insights free to all during this challenging time. For more insights and upcoming research, you can find all of GWI’s Covid-19 related free resources here