A recent national survey on how COVID-19 will alter future shopping behavior includes some good news for local businesses as they prepare to reopen in the wake of the global pandemic.
In the survey, conducted April 21-22 by consumer research company Marshall Marketing & Communications, 1,000 adults age 18 and older were asked, among other things, about their likely spending habits after the crisis is over.
Bruce Hahn, vice president of research sales and consulting, said the company normally provides customized market research for TV stations (including WPSD Local 6) and other clients across the country.
“We typically don’t do national surveys,” Hahn said. “But based on what we’re going through right now, we thought it might be nice to look at some different trends.
“Our goal was really to capture, not the things that people are doing now that they have a lot of resources for, like streaming, media consumption, but what’s going to be the impact in the future. Are people going to shop differently?”
Behavior before the coronavirus pandemic will likely change into new behavior after, as it did post 9/11 and the great recession, Hahn said. The survey indicates a shift toward online shopping, buying local and buying American-made products.
It also demonstrates a positive impact of community support advertising and marketing, Hahn said.
Thirty-eight% of respondents said they will make more purchases online; 36% said they will shop more local businesses and purchase more products “made in America.” Twenty-two% said they will purchase take-out or home-delivery food more frequently.
Forty-three% of survey respondents said they will spend their stimulus money on necessities like food, gas and prescriptions. Twenty-five% said they would put that money toward non-essential items or home improvements or remodeling projects.
Once the COVID-19-related restrictions begin to ease, 24% of respondents said they planned to have their vehicles serviced for repairs; 18% plan to purchase do-it-yourself home improvement items; and 14% said they plan to buy a new mobile device.
While a national survey isn’t broken down by regions or market size, the results demonstrate that when people feel it is safe to go out and shop, they will, Hahn said.
“There’s going to be some fits and starts, bumps and bruises (as economies open up) because it’s a new experience for everybody,” he said.
“In general, I’m comfortable in saying your market is going to look like this (survey) in appealing marketing messages and shopping behavior and things like that.”
Chad Oliver, executive director of the Princeton/Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce, said COVID-19 has increased the need for local businesses to “step up their game” in terms of online offerings, especially at the outset when many businesses were forced to close.
“I think when it comes to shopping online you’re going to see a whole lot more of that,” he said. “People see how convenient it is.”
At the same time, the importance and convenience of supporting local businesses is also reflected in efforts such as “Give Back Day” on Friday, A local radio promotion selling gift certificates to area businesses to help their cash flow.