Acosta released its seventh insight report on the continuing evolution of consumer behavior and outlook amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, which found many shoppers remain wary of dining in a restaurant as states reopen and restrictions are lifted, also provides suggestions to help retailers seize opportunities to support shoppers and local economies.
“Many consumers are particularly hesitant to eat out because they are concerned about social distancing and are preparing more meals at home. Retailers should be prepared to continue meeting dining needs by providing creative meal solutions, like collaborating with local restaurants to supply and sell prepackaged meals”, said Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta.
Grocery store shopping habits
- Due to health concerns, shoppers have been cautious about buying food from self-serve and counter-serve areas of grocery stores. Forty to 50% of shoppers who previously bought from these areas are buying less often or not at all since COVID-19, due in part to such areas being shut down in many stores.
- Forty-three percent of shoppers said they will not or may not go back to the self-serve food bar after the pandemic; 31% will not or may not go back to self-serve bulk; and an additional 31% will not or may not go back to the store-made to-go area.
New opportunities for retailers
- Provide meal solutions and meal kits to keep busy families eating together.
- Revitalize the center store and frozen sections to fuel the continued increase in at-home meal occasions.
- Initiate foodservice partnerships with local restaurants to offer restaurant-quality meals to those who are not ready to eat out.
- Revamp the prepared food area with less self-serve intervention to win back shoppers. For example, create an online “build-a-meal” option that allows customers to select from a virtual salad bar or taco bar to then pick up from the store.