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Covid-19 poll daily insights

May 5, 2020

  • Some shoppers’ buying behavior has become more impulsive.
  • Many people spent more money than they expected over the last two weeks.
  • People in the UK plan to return to in-person shopping at a higher rate than those in the US.


Some people have been shopping more impulsively over the last two weeks.

About a month ago, we asked people whether they were shopping more impulsively, planning out their shopping more than usual, or carrying on with shopping as usual. In yesterday’s poll, we followed up by asking participants the same question about their shopping behavior over the past two weeks. The results show a slight increase in more impulsive buying: As of April 10th, 28 percent of people said they were making some impulse purchases, but our May 5th poll shows an increase to 33 percent.

A month ago, 48 percent of survey participants said they were planning out their shopping more than usual, while only 33 percent of respondents to the May 5th poll said they’ve been planning more. It also seems that many people are settling into a “new normal,” with 35 percent saying their shopping behavior has not changed in the last two weeks.

impulse vs planned spending over time 5-5

Some people spent more than they expected in the last few weeks.

When we compare how much people expected to spend in the last two weeks compared to how much they actually did spend, we see that many people spent more than usual. Over a month ago, 53 percent of people expected to spend less than usual over the next few weeks, but in reality, only 27 percent did. In contrast, only 18 percent of people had expected to spend more money than usual, but in reality, more than 38 percent did.

expected spending reported vs actual 5-5

More people in the UK say they will quickly return to in-store shopping after restrictions are lifted.

Twenty-six percent of respondents in the UK said they would do most of their shopping in person in the first month after restrictions are lifted, compared to just 13 percent of those in the US. Twenty-seven percent of those in the US said they would do most of their shopping online after restrictions were lifted compared to 18 percent of those in the UK.

Planned In-Store vs Online Shopping Post Restrictions by Country 5-5

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Consumer sentiment

What are people buying and why?

Many people are waiting to make travel-related purchases until restrictions are lifted. In particular, people mentioned refraining from buying plane tickets for the time being. Additionally, many people talked about avoiding making vacation plans until stay-at-home orders end.

Many also expressed sadness at the thought that they likely won’t be able to see their loved ones this summer. Some talked about canceling trips to see their children who live in other states. Others talked about not being able to see their elderly parents. One person in a long-distance relationship said “I won’t be able to see my boyfriend who lives in London…breaks my heart.”

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