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Covid-19 poll daily insights

March 25, 2020

  • Consumers are shifting their buying habits online, but some report more in-store shopping than normal.
  • Beyond food and beverage, people are buying and plan on buying hardware and home improvement products.
  • Spending on office supplies may not continue.


Fifty-four percent of survey respondents are doing more of their shopping online than normal. Ten percent of individuals are moving more than half of their shopping from in-store to online. But 33 percent of individuals have done more shopping in-stores than usual. These in-store shoppers tend to buy from three product categories compared to those shopping more online who bought from an average of four categories.

This may be related to more frequent trips to grocery stores and pharmacies or last-minute trips before stores shut down. Now that more and more states are getting shelter in place orders, we’ll follow this change over time.

change in spending online vs in store 3-25

The dark horse category that people are buying steadily: hardware and home improvement. Many categories saw a slight drop in terms of how many people had bought recently and how many planned to buy in the next few weeks. But hardware and home improvement stayed consistent. Additionally, 51 percent of people who purchased in the last two weeks said they were planning on purchasing again in that category. One person responded, “We are trying to make the best of our time at home and get to a bunch of projects we’ve been putting off.” Another had a different angle for these purchases: “Gardening gives us the ability to have food not being handled by others.”

Office supplies saw the biggest drop from recently purchased compared to what people plan on buying in the near future. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they have recently bought office supplies, but only eleven percent said they were planning on buying office supplies in the next two weeks. This trend seems to be slightly less severe for people with kids—one parent reported that they’re buying supplies to help with their kids’ new homeschool curriculum.

change in purchasing rate of office supplies 3-25

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Consumer sentiment

What are people buying and why?

“Staying healthy, fed, and clean” – The most common driver of purchasing behavior was the need to stock up on essentials, like medical supplies and food.

“I’m bored” – A number of people commented that their new purchasing habits came from increased boredom and need for more entertainment since they’re working from home for the foreseeable future. Others said that they’ll have more time and are looking to pick up new hobbies.

“I want to treat myself” – Many talked about wanting to be more comfortable during this time, whether that means purchasing home goods or clothing.

“I want to support local businesses” – A handful of respondents mentioned wanting to support local businesses during this time. For some, they can get what they need and help others, so it’s a win-win: “Need new jeans and seen some sales… also want to stimulate the economy.”

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