Americans are shopping more frequently and report increasing feelings that avoiding stores is not important in slowing the spread of Coronavirus.
Editor’s Note (8/27/2020): This article includes findings from ICF’s COVID-19 Monitor Survey of U.S. Adults, including the fifth wave of data collection that was fielded July 23 through July 28. 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.
Shoppers are also reporting increased frequency of non-grocery shopping trips, with fewer days between trips.
In our first survey of shoppers, 39% of Americans reported that it had been seven or more days since they had last been to a retail store for something other than groceries, a figure that rose to almost 44% in April. Since then, this number has declined each month. In July, 50% of shoppers reported that they had visited a non-grocery retail store in at least two days in the previous week, up from 35% in April. While this does, of course, coincide with many states lifting temporary non-essential retail closures, it has also increased sequentially in each survey since hitting the April low. Showing the most growth, month-over-month, 6.7% of survey respondents reported visiting a retail store every day in the preceding week. We will monitor these trends in our August survey to see if they hold or if the marketplace has simply adjusted to retail being reopened.
Despite shoppers' increasing willingness to visit a retail store, malls face a long road to recovery.
While retail sales have returned to pre-pandemic levels and shoppers seem to be increasingly willing to return to stores, malls face a long road back to the traffic they experienced pre-pandemic. Nearly 24% of survey respondents expressed a willingness to visit malls as frequently as they did pre-pandemic this summer, and 49% expect to be willing to return to malls at their pre-pandemic frequency before the end of this year. However, over 30% of respondents do not plan to visit malls as frequently as before the pandemic until “COVID-19 is completely controlled or a vaccine is available.” This bodes poorly for department stores and retailers highly dependent on foot traffic and the Q4 holiday shopping season to drive a significant portion of their annual revenue.
Watch this space.
How will American shoppers’ feelings and behaviors change as the summer ends, the holidays approach, and the pandemic continues? We will report key findings from our data collection efforts over the coming months and share this information. Sign up to receive alerts as we roll out upcoming results and package our insights into reports.