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Consumers Say They’re Ready To Shop. But Will Surging COVID-19 Cases Allow It?

The long-term impact of COVID-19 remains to be seen, but at least this much is clear: Americans are ready to resume their lives as proactive consumers.

That’s according to a new survey by marketing technology and consumer engagement firm Valassis, which finds 36% of respondents say they’ve made an impulse purchase based on an advertisement since the pandemic began, while nearly two-thirds (65%) say they’ll make an unplanned purchase within the next month — just to treat themselves.

“Consumers have had to change the way they live and shop over the last few months, creating, for some, pent-up demand for novelty and discovery,” Carrie Parker, Valassis’ VP of Marketing, says in a news release. “While saving money is top of mind, we see that many consumers are looking to discover new products, using deals and offers as a purchase catalyst. Connecting the dots between shifting behavior, purchase motivations and preferred ways of engaging will enable marketers to use this consumer desire for novelty to make a real brand connection.”

The release of the data examining consumer behavior amid the pandemic comes against a troubling backdrop: a surge of new infections following the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

Florida, for example, confirmed some 9,000 new cases on Friday. The state has reported more than 29,000 in cases in the last week alone — nearly a quarter of its total confirmed cases to date. And in Texas, the governor has hit the pause button on reopening as new cases and hospitalizations are soaring. On Thursday, the U.S. reached a single-day high for new coronavirus cases.

Compared to another survey conducted in mid-March — when the U.S. economy began to shut down in earnest — more consumers believe new shopping behaviors will become a part of their future routine.

In the retail space, Valassis found, 19% will use buy online, pick-up in-store options more often (versus 10% in March). Twenty-nine percent say they’ll choose to carry-out from restaurants more often. (That’s up from 20% in March.) And 23% (including 36% of consumers 25-34) say they’ll use restaurant delivery more often, up from 18% in March.

Valassis, in demonstrating how behavior is changing, says the insights give brands a chance to tailor their marketing efforts.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • 76% enjoy discovering new products based on deals they receive from brands.

  • 53% have tried a new grocery store, 52% have tried a new restaurant and 49% have tried a new retailer since the pandemic began. Across all three categories, the biggest driver for trying a new establishment was an offer, discount or deal.

  • 46% are paying more attention to advertisements offering promotions and deals now compared to before the pandemic began, with 18-24 year-olds (52%) and 25-34 year-olds (50%) even more closely tuned in.

  • 65% are looking forward to shopping summer sales and promotions.

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