In an update to our August survey, American shoppers continue to shop more frequently and report increasing feelings that avoiding stores is not important in slowing the spread of the Coronavirus.
Editor’s Note (10/26/2020): This article includes findings from ICF’s COVID-19 Monitor Survey of U.S. Adults, including the seventh wave of data collection that was fielded September 23 through October 4. Each wave has collected 1,000 completes using a census-balanced, national non-probability sample. The new information, shared below, examines the impact of COVID-19 on the American public’s shopping habits as well as their attitudes toward retail shopping in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about the ICF COVID-19 Monitor Survey of U.S. Adults.
As was also the case in August, shoppers continue to report increased frequency of non-grocery shopping trips, with fewer days between trips.
In August, we reported that 26.7% of shoppers said that it had been over seven days since they had last visited a retail store for something other than groceries. In our most recent survey, that number has now fallen to 11.4%. At the same time, the percentage of shoppers who reported visiting non-grocery retail stores on two, three, four, five, six, and seven days within the preceding week all increased by healthy margins.
We noted in August that many of the improvements in shopper visit frequency coincided with the lifting of temporary non-essential retail closures in many states. We wondered if these big changes were simply the result of pent-up demand due to retail having been closed for so long. While this demand certainly fueled the big swings in the data from mid-summer, it now seems that when coupled with consumers’ increased comfort with retail shopping, we have settled into something of a new retail frequency normal.
Good news for malls: While consumers may not have come back quite as much as hoped for this summer, they express increasing willingness to do so soon.
In July, 18.8% of shoppers expressed a willingness to return to malls during the summer of 2020. In our most recent survey, this number stood at 14.6%, highlighting the number of individuals who did not end up following through on their willingness to return to the mall. While this may not seem like good news on the surface, we saw a healthy increase in those willing to resume this behavior in Fall 2020, from 10.4% in July to 16.7% in this survey. We also saw a large decrease in those that intend to wait to resume frequent mall visits until “COVID-19 is completely controlled or a vaccine is available,” from 23.9% in July to 14.6% in this survey, which highlights the improved position that malls find themselves in as consumers continue to express increasing comfort in retail shopping.
Watch this space.
How will American shoppers’ feelings and behaviors change as we enter the key holiday shopping months and the pandemic continues? We will report key findings from our data collection efforts over the coming months and share this information.