Since the outset of the pandemic, the number of consumer retail shopping trips has fallen. Proportionally, households shopping on average three times a week have fallen 9.1% between the March 20 to March 22 quarters. Households making a single shopping trip per week are conversely up 8.7% during the same period.
While this phenomenon being driven by COVID-19 is no surprise, what are the individual factors driving this reduction in shopping trips?
Levying of Social distancing measures levying of social distancing measures reduced the ability of shoppers to make trips to retailers of choice, particularly in metropolitan areas in affected by strict lockdown measures with travel limits.
For areas with high case numbers, the risk of isolation was also a strong motivator to reduce trips due to the number of retail stores becoming exposure sites.
In addition to the regulatory measures, the risk of infection has also created an aversion to social contact, particularly in those from more vulnerable groups.
These factors have precipitated a rise in the market share of online retail food and grocery shopping, with shoppers opting for more contactless methods of purchasing.
Online food and grocery shopping spend is also approximately triple the value over traditional retail, reducing the total number of trips for households as consumers make a single larger purchase.
This has created an advantage for retailers with online offerings, capturing more spend as shoppers look to reduce trips. Conversely, this fall in trips has also adversely affected retailers that are more dependent on what was previously the weekly 2nd and 3rd household shop.
Buying patterns have also been affected due to the reduced trips, with items more dependent on impulse sales negatively impacted.
Over the course of the pandemic, lockdown measures have also heavily reduced eating out of the home, as consumers shift these trips to retail. With an end to lockdowns and falling COVID cases, this will likely see further reduced retail shopping trips, as consumers return to eating away from the home more frequently.
These patterns invite a focus on how many trips each retailer is capturing as why their customers may be going elsewhere to purchase food.
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