COVID Leads Consumers to Diversify Their Food & Grocery Store Choices

February 4, 2021

Nielsen New Food Grocery Store Discovery Feb2021Consumers around the world found themselves in a position last year that most had never experienced before. The pandemic and the resulting restrictions placed on movement and commuting put many in a position where they were not always able to visit their favorite stores to shop, with a growing share shopping at stores they had never visited in the past, per recent data from Nielsen.

In May 2020, Nielsen’s data shows that 39% of consumers around the world reported shopping at a store they had not visited before during the period week. By September, that percentage had reached 45% having shopped at a new retailer for food or groceries.

North America saw the biggest growth in consumers discovering new stores between May and September, with the portion of consumers doing so up by about 31% over that 4-month period, from 26% to 34%. That said, the countries where the largest proportion of consumers were shopping at stores they had never visited before in September include those in Africa/Middle East (60%, up from 49%), Asia Pacific (59%, up from 55%) and Latin America (50%, up from 45%).

The events of the past year have also resulted in consumers increasing their budgets for food and beverages at home. Comparing data from Q4 2019 and Q2 2020, Nielsen found that consumers in Latin America (21.9% in Q4 2019 to 23.4% in Q2 2020) North America (17.5% to 18.9%) and Europe (17.8% to 19%) allocated more of their monthly budgets to in-home food and beverages.

This increase in grocery spending can also be seen in H1 2020 data from NCSolutions that looked specifically at the US. These findings show that grocery spending experienced significant year-over-year growth during the first months of the pandemic.

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