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Food Broker News

Covid-19 Breeds Convenience Store Behaviors

And it Looks Like these Behaviors are Here to Stay

Disinfecting hands

uccumbing to the ‘new ways of life’ since Covid-19 took root has been a challenge for us all.  Convenience stores, like every other business, watched revenue suffer as they revamped their operations. As things begin to normalize, it’s clear that people have come to terms with this 'new way of life' and aren't ready to let it go any time soon.

"As vaccine rollouts progress and shoppers begin returning to brick-and-mortar stores more frequently, some pandemic-related consumption shifts will fade while some will have a lasting impact on purchase behavior," says a study made by NielsenIQ.

In the wake of Covid-19,people started relying on online orders, delivery, and pickup.  And as of today, this continues to be the case.  If we talk about the United States, InstaCart subscriptions have grown ten times, 20 times in the States with the most reported cases.  People started to opt for home delivery to get their food delivered at their doorstep, and this demand hasn’t subsided.  We also witnessed that people were more inclined to try DIY hacks for beauty and personal care.  Having learned them, people aren’t ready to give them up.

As things begin to normalize, it’s clear that people have come to terms with this 'new way of life' and aren't ready to let it go any time soon.

According to a study, millennials admit that the pandemic has wholly changed consumer store behaviors and the preferences of the customers.  It has changed how millennials are shopping.  According to a survey carried out, 30% of millennials said that they are shopping online more than earlier, and 39% of them said that they are less likely to go out to stores now.

The recent outbreak of the coronavirus has caused people to become more germophobic than ever.  There was an increase in sales of disinfectants, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, as well as multipurpose cleaners.  Cleaning product sales surged in the United States in the first week of March in 2020.  Sales of aerosol disinfectants, in particular, grew by nearly 400% compared to the same period of the previous year.  Apparently now a trend, the public is still spending generously for these products.

During the pandemic, another trend surfaced.  People were trying new things and exploring new eating varieties during the pandemic.  There was also an increase in the sales of frozen foods.  "Frozen foods [were] a pandemic powerhouse, ringing in $65.1 billion in retail sales in 2020, a 21-percent increase compared to a year ago," announced the AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor.  He said this after noticing that frozen food sales increased in both dollars (21%) and units (+13.3%) in 2020, with virtually all categories of frozen foods enjoying double-digit sales growth.

People were quick to experiment with new recipes and varieties of food available in convenience stores.  A particular rise was seen in plant-based meat substitutes, seafood, marinades, and fresh herbs.  People were determined to eat healthy and green when they were 'locked-down' in their homes.  There was a drastic 25% increase in meat substitute consumption, as quoted by NielsenIQ.  This continues to be a preference, and is another clear-cut demonstration of how the pandemic shaped the eating habits of the consumers.

The changes aside, the shift to the ‘new normal’ and new convenience store behavior wasn’t exactly welcomed by the public at first.  There was heavy resistance to Covid-19 policies implemented by C-stores, and people didn't respect the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) enough.  C-store personnel were placed in the uncomfortable position of “policing” customers.    

The convenience store workers saw themselves in difficult positions and receiving pushback from customers while trying to make the customers follow the SOPs.  Many of these frontline workers got exposed to the virus.  A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that about 20% of grocery store workers had Covid-19, and most didn't have symptoms.  Noteworthy is that workers in the study had been taking precautions.  

"If you are in an environment when you're literally in front of a customer, you can't be more than six feet, and that is stressful for essential employees." This was said by Justin Yang, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine and a researcher at Harvard School of Public Health who worked on the study.

Fortunately, as the intensity of the virus breaks down and more people become vaccinated each day, we are on track to end it!

July 14, 2021