Some Shopping Habits May Be Forever Changed by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed some shopping habits forever, with consumers expecting even more from retailers.
covid shopping

As consumers return to in-store shopping, many of the changes from the pandemic are sticking around--and some retailers are likely to benefit more than others, according to The Wall Street Journal. During the pandemic, consumers flocked to one-stop shopping, giving a boon to big-box retailers. And that habit isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, according to the WSJ. Similarly, shoppers reduced the number of grocery store visits but ended up with bigger shopping carts. 

Mass retailers, including Walmart, Target and Costco, are likely to continue seeing swells of shoppers online and in-store coming out of the pandemic--not only for necessities and everyday products, but also for other items and apparel as consumers consolidate shopping trips.

However, while some mass retailers benefited, others faltered. In 2020, there were more retail bankruptcies since 2010, in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Department stores were particularly hard hit, with JCPenney and Neiman Marcus both announcing bankruptcies, while Macy’s laid off roughly 4,000 employees and closed stores. Other discount retailers, such as T.J.Maxx and Ross Stores filled in those gaps, leading to store expansions in 2021.

“Consumers have gotten savvy about price comparing and will tend to opt for discounters if department stores don’t offer compelling value,” WSJ reported.

The fall of department stores is also helping spur a bigger movement toward direct-to-consumer by some brands. Notably, Nike has been pulling away from some of its retailers in favor of selling its products through its own stores and platforms. 

As consumers return to the new normal, retailers need to continue stepping up their in-store experiences to recapture customers who expect to get more out of their shopping trips. As consumers are hungry to spend, with built up savings from the pandemic, there’s a lot of opportunity for retailers.