How did the pandemic change consumer habits?

What, how and where do consumers shop during the Covid-19 era?

In the last two years, we have experienced important changes in our lives, due to the unexpected onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Among all others, we have become different as consumers. But what are the changes that have taken place in consumer habits? What do consumers buy now, from where and in what ways?

Delivery is dynamically enhanced

People may not have been able to visit restaurants for a long time, but that doesn’t mean they stopped discovering new tastes, even at home. According to a recent survey by IELKA (Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods), 4 out of 10 Internet users now order food online. In addition, according to data from Euromonitor International, the share of spending on e-commerce related to food and beverages exceeded 10% in 2020, from just 3% in 2015, while, according to the survey ‘Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles’ of Euromonitor International, 46% of consumers aged 30-44 years ordered food to go or for delivery in 2020, from 34% in 2019. At the same time, new trends have sprung up in delivery, such as ghost kitchens (stores that can deliver food, without having space to serve customers or a shop window), which, according to Euromonitor, will represent a business opportunity of 1 trillion dollars by 2030.

What other online markets have been boosted?

Which markets, however, flourished the most during the pandemic? According to a study by Plushost in collaboration with Focus Bari, which studied the relationship between consumers and e-commerce before, during and after the restrictive measures in 24 different market sectors, the categories that grew during the quarantine period are Cosmetics / Perfumes (+ 17%), Clothes & Shoes (+ 12%), Underwear / Pajamas (+ 12%), Toys (+ 10%), Medicines / Supplements (+ 8%), Gift Items (+ 8%), Sports Equipment (+ 8%), Books (+7%) and Sportswear / Shoes (+ 6%). In terms of where consumers shop, online shopping orders from Skroutz / Best Price precede with a percentage of 28%, followed by chain shops’ websites (27%) and of course stores that offer many different brands.

Great rise for e-commerce in general

E-commerce has, of course, taken off. According to statistics concerning Greece from the Europe e-commerce report 2021, the percentage of Internet users who buy goods or services online reached 59% in 2020, with the forecast to reach 63% in 2021, from 45% in 2016. Similar are the statistics of ELSTAT, according to which, in the first quarter of 2021, online purchases were made by 60% of consumers, having an increase of 22% compared to the corresponding period last year.

How do consumers pay?

Of particular interest are the findings regarding payment methods, where consumers still prefer Cash on Delivery (CoD) albeit to a lesser extent (63% before the pandemic, 56% in quarantine, 57% in the click-in-shop system and 59% today). Overall, however, a significant increase was noticed in card usage, during the pandemic period. According to an interim report of the Bank of Greece on monetary policy 2021, card payments made by physical presence at a physical EFTPOS terminal in 2020 amounted to 28.7 billion euros, an increase of 29% over the previous year, while the corresponding value of those carried out remotely amounted to 6.8 billion euros in 2020, an increase of 71% over the previous year.

Support for local markets increased as well

The quarantine also brought a strong interest in local markets. In 2020, according to statistics from the European Commission, 81% made purchases closer to home and supported local businesses, in a statistic proving that people, after the onset of the pandemic and the constraints it has brought to their lives, have turned a lot to their neighborhood and to the shops closest to their home.

Keeping up with trends and helping businesses in the world of retail to understand them is one of the aims of Retail Innovation Hub – a regional platform with the ambition to facilitate the development of retail in the digital age. More insights were presented at the Retail leaders Innovation Workgroup on January 20th, an interactive online event aimed at sharing ideas and identify challenges that have a broad impact on the industry and require solutions. The insights from this workgroup are available in a mini report that you can download here for free.