With most state guidelines lifting mask mandates and COVID-19 restrictions, consumers are eager to get back to life before the pandemic. This of course includes shopping.
Many Americans spent quarantine saving more money than ever before. However, now that quarantine is over many are choosing to use that money for something other than loungewear.
Recently, the term “revenge spending” has been coined to define shoppers using money to make up for the lost time.
Is revenge shopping real? Our market research company reflects on surveys conducted in the past year to show the reality of changing shopping trends among consumers.
How Consumers Shopped Differently During the Pandemic
From our research back in April of 2020, not surprisingly, our studies showed people spending money on different sectors than ever before.
During the height of the pandemic, consumers increased spending on items such as:
- Household cleaning supplies
- At-home entertainment services
- Health or personal care items
Whereas, people were spending much less money at restaurants and on apparel and beauty products.
So of course this makes a lot of sense being that most of us were stuck inside and not caring about how we dressed or how we looked.
How Consumers Shopped Differently for Service Businesses During the Pandemic
A surprising tidbit of how people shopped differently during the pandemic however was for professional services.
Our studies showed that consumers were much more likely to search outside of local areas for:
- Financial advisors
- Other like-businesses
This is seemingly a direct result of people becoming more comfortable with virtual meetings.
For example, before the pandemic, an accountant was used to meeting people face-to-face within their drive-time to the office.
But now, they can now realistically expand their services to anyone in the country as consumers are more comfortable with video conferencing.
Furthermore, our market research company has seen this trend a lot with our banks and credit union research as consumers explore ideas for virtual financial advisors and self-service apps.
Large portions, if not all, of the loan and mortgage process, can now be completed online where an in-person visit is not required at all, or just to sign documents.
I’d say overall a lot of these trends are good things for consumers. They are making their lives easier, more efficient, and giving them greater access to do things on their own time.
What COVID-19 Trends Will Change As Life Gets Back to “Normal”
Truthfully it’s hard to imagine any industry or consumer trend ever going back to 100% normal.
There are some behaviors that will come close to normal, others that will be a blend, and others that will change forever.
To learn more insight here, read: How to Measure Shifts in Consumer Behavior Due to COVID-19.
A Mix of Pre-COVID and COVID Shopping Trends
From our survey research with national brands, we’ve found grocery shopping is an example of consumer behavior that will be a mix of pre-COVID and COVID shopping trends.
A recent study we conducted found 41% of people are visiting the grocery store less often due to COVID.
More and more people are turning to online grocery retailers for at-home delivery or curbside pickup.
Even when people are grocery shopping in person they are spending less time in the store and buying more in bulk because of the fewer visits.
As a result, many of our brand tracking studies for consumer packaged goods clients saw a dip in brand awareness and exposure.
You figure less time in-store results in less consideration time, exploring competitive brands, and so on.
But, do I think online grocery retailers like Instacart will ever completely replace in-person shopping? Absolutely not.
In the same survey, we found that 83% of people will prefer to shop in-store post-pandemic.
This tells me that brand awareness at least will start to pick back up.
Consumer Trends from Pre-COVID Returning
In contrast, education is an industry I predict will closely go back to normal.
Through the education research studies we’ve conducted on COVID, parents and students overwhelmingly want to return to in-person schooling, if they have not already.
In-person student-to-student and teacher-to-student relationships are really hard to replicate regardless of what technology is out there.
But again, will it ever be 100% comparable to pre-COVID times? Probably not.
We’re even starting to see that with NYC schools eliminating snow days and forcing distance learning instead.
Consumer Trends from Pre-COVID Not Returning
Lastly, what’s an industry we’ve conducted surveys for that may never be the same? Dry cleaning.
We are seeing a lot of mom-and-pop dry cleaners invest in pick-up and drop-off offerings, apps, and other technology to assist with touchless services.
As offices reopen or adopt a hybrid approach, some employees will return to the office and likely have dry cleaning needs.
However, many companies plan to continue to offer remote flexibility with their workforce, which means the level of usage with dry cleaners will never be the same.
Revenge Spending: What Can Businesses Expect?
As local economies started shutting down, Americans started saving a greater percentage of their money than ever before.
For instance, this time last year our consumer studies showed a lot more concern with the economy, health, and jobs.
As a result, many people reported spending their first round of stimulus checks on necessary living expenses such as:
- Emergency funds
However, as months went on our surveys showed that concerns with the economy, family’s health, and people's own health had gone down by 30%.
These lessening concerns have had a direct impact on how people have spent future stimulus payments.
Now in 2021, 58% of stimulus check recipients primarily spent the money on bigger ticket items like vacations and home improvement projects.
In fact, some smaller airports that are vacation destinations are busier than even before the pandemic.
The best way to measure shifts in B2C or B2B audience behaviors is by conducting custom market research.
Drive Research, a national market research company, partners with organizations in various industries to measure changing awareness, perception, attitudes, and more.
To learn more about our market research services, contact our team below.
- Message us on our website
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call us at 888-725-DATA
- Text us at 315-303-2040
A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.
Learn more about Emily, here.