Buying In: Pandemic Changes Shopping Habits

The coronavirus pandemic has affected how much Americans spend, but it has also changed the way they spend it. A new survey of 3,000 U.S. adults from Sykes Enterprises finds growing numbers across all age groups embracing online tools for shopping, banking and other services since the pandemic began. "It used to be kind of nice to have digital and contactless payments and in-app shopping, but now those things have quickly become essential," says Hilary Hahn, Vice President of Emerging Brands at Sykes.

Specifically, the survey finds 41% of those age 18-24 and 43% of those over 55 began ordering groceries online or through an app during the pandemic. It also finds 21% of those 25-34 have signed up for meal kit deliveries since March, and 28% of those over 55 have started ordering food from restaurants online or through an app since the pandemic started.

Hahn tells KTRH the results aren't surprising. "The surge of people worried there's not going to be what they need at the brick-and-mortar stores--or they don't want to go to the stores, or they can't get to the stores--has really accelerated this move to digital," she says.

Another trend gaining momentum during the pandemic is people going cashless. In fact, 12% of those surveyed said they will only use contactless payment going forward. "You're seeing hair salons and all kinds of small businesses reopening, and rather than taking cash they're asking you to tip via Venmo," says Hahn.

For those who still prefer a trip to the actual store, that experience is changing rapidly too. "Some stores will have a system where you literally go in and it recognizes you through cameras in the ceiling, and you walk out without even hitting a register and you're charged automatically," says Hahn.

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