What are the changes to consumer behaviour due to COVID-19?

online shopping pandemic

How has the pandemic reshaped the key buying habits of the public?

As you’d no doubt know, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a number of curve-balls to organisations around the world, and while the economy is steadily re-opening, it’s evident that covid transformed consumer spending habits with a number of interesting shopping habits that seem to have been altered. 

Obviously, covid changing consumer behavior is most noticeable in the uptick of online shopping, with consumers spending money on more products and services digitally than ever before, but how big of an uptick?


Well, a piece from Kochie’s Business Builders used data from a national survey to study this question. Their results showed that 65% of Australians had, in spite of economic circumstances, shopped more than pre-covid-days. In addition to this, a reported 56% of Australians will continue to shop more than pre-covid levels once restrictions are lifted around the country, a clear example of the impact of covid-19 and how it has impacted on consumer behavior.

Their report quotes Paul Rober, the Chief Commercial Officer at Couriers Please, who said that “physical distancing restrictions, travel bans, and business closures have really forced the hand of traditional shoppers who have been historically wary of venturing online.” 

“We saw an unprecedented spike in delivery volumes across the country… so much so, that we put on extra staff and extended our trading to handle the overflow,” Robert said.

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online shopping pandemic

66% of Australians shopped online at least three-times per month during lockdown

This 66% figure was taken from the overall average, with as many as 73% of shoppers under the age of 30 saying they were shopping three-times per month. Just over 26% of respondents said they were shopping around six-times per month.

60% of households missed out on essential items in-store because of panic buying

The impact of panic buying early in the pandemic has now been mapped out. A breakdown of items includes 32% of households forgoing essential pantry items, 27% missing out on toilet paper, 23% not finding cleaning and laundry items and 22% unable to purchase personal hygiene products. This is a clear example of how covid 19 is changing consumer behaviour, the panic created by unsure times highlighted how greediness can lead to others missing out on the opportunity to purchase essential items.  

Health, Beauty, Food & Fashion Products were the most in-demand

This category looked at products that were traditionally over-the-counter purchases that shifted into online sales as the pandemic rolled on. Some of the biggest winning consumer markets in the product breakdown include fashion (40%), food and alcohol (38%), technology and electronics (36%) and health and beauty products (34%).

Under-30’s out-shopped all other age groups

The survey shows that 80% of shoppers under the age of 30 had reported shopping more than previous months, with 67% of those aged 30-50 and 53% of over-50s saying they were shopping more online than pre-COVID. While millennials led the charge, the overall trend is clear to be seen from all age groups in terms of increased online shopping during the pandemic. This could also be attributed to the fact that this age group is traditionally the most tech savvy and aware of sales and promotions that they can take advantage of. They also usually have the least responsibility and therefore more time to spend online shopping.

56% of shoppers will continue to shop more than pre-lockdown 

Younger shoppers are set to lead this trend, with 64% of respondents saying they’ll continue to shop more online. Those aged between 30-50 are also keen online shoppers, with 62% saying they’ll keep their online shopping habits. This dropped to 43% for over 50s, but remains a significantly high figure. The hike in consumer spending over the long term is an example of a positive impact of the covid-19 pandemic as it clearly indicates that the spending habits of the consumer have been altered for the better. It shows that consumers expect a quicker and more convenient shopping experience online and are moving away from shopping at the classic brick and mortar style businesses.

86% avoided physical stores through online shopping

This is perhaps the most substantial of the changes in consumer behaviour due to covid. Australians were listening carefully to government advice, according to the results of the survey. There was a total drop in physical shopping activity by a reported 86% However in other nations such as the United States in which there were lighter restrictions and physical stores remained open this figure would’ve been significantly less.

Saturday is the busiest day for online shoppers

Just under a quarter of online shoppers opted for purchasing on a Saturday, with Wednesday following closely behind. “Purchases on hump day helped many to get through the rest of the week,” according to Kochie’s Business Builders.

44% of online shoppers hunt at night 

The most popular time of day for shoppers was in the evenings, with 49% of sub-30-year-olds reporting purchases at night; this was followed up by 37% of those over 50-years-old opting for night-time purchases. Afternoons are the second most popular time of day to shop, according to the survey results, with 26% of shoppers clicking the ‘buy now’ button in the afternoon.

44% of students and workers procrastinate with online shopping

61% of shoppers under the age of 30 said they’re guilty of shopping while they were supposed to be working or studying. This is possibly down to the added amount of employees working unsupervised remotely. This figure dropped to 42% of shoppers aged between 30-50, and dropped to just 11% of shoppers over the age of 50. 

72% prefer regular, smaller purchases rather than bulk orders

This is an interesting comparison between age groups, with younger buyers opting for regular, small purchases rather than a costly bulk order. Shoppers aged between 30-50 were more likely to buy in bulk, which the authors suggest is due to the fact that they’re the age group “who tend to be the most time poor.”

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