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Coronavirus: impact on the retail landscape in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, every state in the United States has been reporting increased number of COVID-19 cases , with new reported cases reaching a peak in November. In an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, many states closed schools, bars, restaurants, and movie theaters, as well as limiting large public gatherings and encouraging people to work from home. As such, the retail industry faces substantial shifts: consumer spending on certain items, such as groceries continue to increase. In contrast, spending on items, such as apparel, accessories, and out-of-home entertainment, has substantially decreased.

Back in March 2020 when the pandemic was still in its first wave, consumers have bought considerably more amounts of edible groceries, especially packaged food, alcohol, and beverages, presumably to keep up the comfort levels at home while decreasing the frequency of going out to the store. In terms of food and beverages, purchases of vegetarian and vegan items rose the most: sales of oat milk grew by 347 percent, while meat alternative sales grew by just over 200 percent. Many consumers are increasing purchases of home goods as well, including the phenomenon of panic buying massive amounts of household necessity products, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizers. Paper products were the most frequently bought non-edible grocery product due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As the world rolls into the winter period with the pandemic still ongoing, there has been a growth of online activity for industries such as grocery retail and sports equipment. Globally, consumer interest in retail e-commerce websites surged again, reaching an all-year high in June 2020. Back in the earky months of the pandemic, grocery delivery app usage had risen, with apps such as Instacart, Walmart Grocery, and Shipt seeing well over one hundred percent growth in application downloads.

E-commerce retailers are divided on what effect COVID-19 will have on their businesses, while traditional format retailers expect some downside revenue implications due to the outbreak. For consumers worried about shortages, the majority of respondents in every country surveyed stated that they expected any food and supply shortages at local grocery stores during the pandemic outbreak to be caused by people stockpiling goods, as opposed to supply chain disruption.

For further information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.

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Coronavirus: impact on the retail landscape in the U.S.

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Edible consumer goods

Non-edible consumer goods


Store avoidance

Spending behavior

Supply chain


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