Even with COVID Resurgence Concerns, Shopper Satisfaction Increasing

Lisa Johnston
Senior Editor
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While consumers remain concerned about the potential of COVID-19 resurgence and are adjusting their shopping habits as a result, two separate studies indicate that retailers are becoming more adept at serving their needs during this period of profound disruption.  

IBM, which surveyed more than 14,500 people last month in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, U.K. and the United States, found that 61% of respondents hadn’t visited shopping malls or centers during the pandemic, although they planned to at some time in the future.

The health crisis has prompted many consumers to try new retail fulfillment options, such as grocery delivery. Forty-four percent of consumers in the U.S. said they used grocery delivery either before or during the pandemic, and 17% said they plan to use it after pandemic. Thirty-seven percent remain uninterested in using the service.

Among the other findings in IBM’s study, consumers intend to use the following retail technology services after the pandemic:

In-store self-checkout: 26%
Place order via a mobile app: 22%
Mobile contactless payment: 20%
Buy-online-pickup-in-store: 20%
Buy-online-pickup-at-curb: 20%
Live chat: 17%
Visual search: 14%
Virtual home furnishings tool: 13%
Make purchase directly from social media: 13%
Voice search: 12%
Virtual clothing fit tool: 12%

In the U.S., two-thirds of IBM respondents were concerned that lifting stay-at-home restrictions would result in another COVID-19 outbreak where they live, and even more (72%) were concerned about a second wave of the virus hitting later this year.

Findings from dunnhumby’s “Worry Index,” which surveyed 1,200 people in North America July 9-12, similarly uncovered that consumer concern about COVID-19 rests at 29%, up 6% from the end of May.

Online grocery shopping and food delivery represents nearly 35% of all U.S. trips, according to the firm. And while consumers remain concerned about the economy and rising food prices, satisfaction with the in-store shopping experience has grown from the start of the pandemic, with 35% now reporting satisfaction.

Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Target and Kroger were the top ranked retailers by U.S. survey respondents, while Publix and H-E-B and discounter Aldi also performed well, according to dunnhumby.  

Consumers who reported satisfaction for online shopping also increased to 45%, up from 27% during March 29 – April 1.

“In these uncertain times, retailers must fully understand how their customers are responding to each phase of the crisis, to meet changing needs,” noted Jose Gomes, president of North America for dunnhumby. “Retailers also need to be prepared to respond when regions experience spikes in new cases, which will likely return customers to previous behaviors from earlier phases in the pandemic.”