More COVID-19 spikes
“We still see a majority of Americans are concerned that we will see more spikes in COVID, and it’s beginning to rear its head in a number of states,” says Jon Last, president of the Sports and Leisure Research Group. “At the same time, there is COVID fatigue.”
He points to the survey’s findings that while roughly 52% plan to stockpile this fall, about 48% said they aren’t. Of those who are stockpiling, the majority are concerned about an increase in infection rates, but a smaller share of people say they are worried about unrest surrounding the election next month.
Shoppers are unlikely to see the types of shortages we experienced in March and April when states enacted stay-at-home orders and grocery shelves were emptied of essentials like toilet paper and flour. Grocery chains are stocking up on supplies ahead of the winter months to ensure they can meet demand as COVID-19 cases increase, as well as the holidays, according to The Wall Street Journal.
There is already some evidence that grocery sales are rising, according to data from industry sources. The typical bill for a trip to the grocery store rose to $72 for the week ending on October 6, 11% higher from the week before, according to data company Envestnet Yodlee.
“That’s the highest we’ve seen since the first week of June and the second-highest since we started tracking this in January,” said Bill Parsons, group president of data and analytics at Evestnet. Grocery spending peaked in April, he notes.
Searches rise for hard-to-find goods
Consumers are increasingly turning to online grocery delivery to fill their pantries. 17.2% of grocery sales are now spent online, an almost 2-percentage-point increase from the start of September, Parsons added. Meanwhile, Instacart says searches for hard-to-find staples during the pandemic are on the upswing again, with a 14% increase in “toilet paper” searches in the past four weeks.
Grocery spending remains elevated partly because of the dynamics of the pandemic, according to Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210 Analytics, which tracks grocery sales. Millions of adults and children continue to work or learn from home, which creates more demand for home-prepped meals.
“All of us now have beans in the pantry and some meals ready to make,” she says. “We have learned to buy online and replenish all the time rather than ‘I’m out of everything but condiments.’”
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