Coronavirus: UK consumers choosing delivered grocery over delivered foodservice

At the beginning of March, we surveyed 1,000 UK consumers (nat. rep.) to understand their beliefs and behaviours following the outbreak of coronavirus and how this may change should the situation worsen. Here we share six statistics that highlight how shoppers are feeling about the threat…

84% are concerned about a major outbreak

A quarter of shoppers are very concerned about the risk of a major coronavirus outbreak in the UK; 32% are quite concerned and 27% are slightly concerned.

Interestingly, although it has been announced that those over 50 or with a pre-existing medical condition that are most at risk, it is the younger demographics that are most concerned about the threat. 31% of 18-35 year-olds are very concerned about a major coronavirus outbreak in the UK. In comparison, only 18% of those over 55 years old state that they are very concerned.

34% are already stockpiling food in case of a major coronavirus outbreak

There have been pictures all over social media and in the press showing images of empty supermarket shelves from across the UK. Over a third of shoppers are beginning to stockpile in case of a major coronavirus outbreak, which is putting retailers and manufacturers under intense pressure to manage stock volumes.

Tinned foods (17%), frozen foods (14%), toiletries (14%) and dried goods (14%) are the most popular categories that shoppers are already stocking up on. Interestingly, no categories were exempt from shopper stockpiling, although baby food (5%), alcohol (5%) and confectionery (6%) came out as the least popular categories for forward purchasing.

88% plan to stockpile food if there is a major coronavirus outbreak

More significantly, nine in ten shoppers (88%) say that they will stockpile if there is a major coronavirus outbreak in the UK. Of course, retailers, wholesalers and suppliers are monitoring the situation closely and doing as much as they can. Advice and communication are critical in these situations to help manage shopper needs and mitigate panic.

The most popular categories that shoppers plan to top up on if there is a major coronavirus outbreak are tinned foods (59%), frozen foods (52%), dried goods (50%), household goods (47%) and wipes/hand gels (35%).

12% plan to buy a bigger freezer in response to a coronavirus outbreak

Frozen foods are one of the most common categories for shoppers to stockpile, due to its long life. Interestingly, more than one in ten shoppers intend to increase their freezer space in order to store more produce due to the possibility of a major coronavirus outbreak.

23% have increased - or plan to increase - their use of online grocery delivery due to coronavirus concerns

Nearly a quarter of shoppers have increased, or are planning to increase, their use of online grocery delivery due to coronavirus concerns. In line with current purchasing behaviour, this is driven predominantly by younger consumers, with 36% of 18-35 year-olds answering yes to this question, compared with only 11% of over 55-year-olds.

This is positive news for those retailers that offer delivery to their shoppers, but for those that don’t this could result in a reduction in footfall as shoppers become less inclined to go out if concerns about the outbreak heighten.

A third will use takeaway delivery services (Deliveroo, Uber Eats etc.) less if there is a major coronavirus outbreak

A quarter of UK consumers state that they will use foodservice delivery much less and a further 8% responded that they will use such services slightly less. This could be to control the number of people that are involved in producing their food, and/or to ensure that they are in control of how their food is cooked and prepared.

Conversely, 19% of consumers say they will use foodservice delivery more if there is a major coronavirus outbreak. This could be due to increased homeworking and avoidance of social gatherings under the governments ‘social distancing’ strategy.