REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - When COVID-19 lockdowns started a year ago, 76% of US consumers reported adjusting their shopping habits. A year later, 57% said the pandemic continues to impact how they shop, according to a new Shopkick survey. 

"A year later, we are still learning how consumer behavior is evolving. Whether shoppers are shifting to conscious consumerism or continuing to stockpile and undertake safety precautions, we are committed to keeping brands and retailers informed at every stage of the pandemic," said David Fisch, general manager of Shopkick. “It has become clear that this new retail reality requires keeping a much more frequent pulse on consumers’ needs and expectations, especially as brand loyalty continues to waver." 

Shopkick surveyed more than 10,000 consumers across the country between March 5-7, 2021 to uncover current consumer behaviors and trends. The survey addressed in-store health precautions, ethical trends, channel preferences and more, and the findings have been compared to Shopkick’s March 2020 report. 

Key findings from the survey include: 

  • Americans still stocking up on the essentials. Nearly half (48%) of consumers report still stocking up on the essentials - a slight increase compared to 12 months ago (47%). Following last year’s trends, these items include toiletries (90%), food and water (79%), cleaning supplies (76%), hand sanitizer (72%), medicine and medical items (53%), and pet supplies (34%). And while 56% say they are spending about the same amount on essentials now compared to one year ago, 35% say they are spending more.  

  • Aisles finally looking fuller. In March 2020, nearly all consumers noticed household essentials being out of stock on store shelves. As supply chains continue to recover from the initial shock of the pandemic, that number has now shrunk to 77%.  

  • Brand loyalty continues to waver. While 85% of consumers reported not caring about brand names in March 2020, the number a year later has decreased, yet remains relatively high compared to pre-pandemic trends. Now, 61% say brand names still do not matter when making their purchasing decisions. 

  • Consumers continue to take precautions in-store. As consumers continue to head in-store to get their essentials, nearly 90% said they are taking certain safety precautions (86% in March 2021 vs. 85% in March 2020). Most consumers are disinfecting their hands and shopping carts (86%), using debit/credit cards to avoid handling cash (70%), using self-checkout (66%), and shopping at slower times (65%). 

  • Online shopping picks up steam. As Americans become increasingly accustomed to spending more time at home and retailers continue to expand their ecommerce capabilities, one in two (51%) consumers said they are shopping online more frequently as compared to the start of the pandemic, with 84% planning to continue shopping online in the future. However, most consumers say high shipping costs (67%) and extended delivery dates (51%) caused by this uptick in popularity have led them to abandon online shopping carts in the past year. 

  • Shopping as an event. With much of the past year spent at home, 44% of consumers now view in-store shopping as an event and something to look forward to. For those who feel the opposite, reasons vary from viewing shopping as: something done for a specific purpose (45%), a stressful event (23%), and a nuisance (20%).