Since Covid-19 appeared on the scene, Canadian consumers’ habits have changed a great deal, especially when it comes to food. We take a look at those changes, how retailers are responding, and the consequences for consumers.
In mid-March, when consumers learned that Covid-19 was here and that meant they’d be confined for quite a while, their first reaction was to run to the grocery store – which led to a shortage of pasta, canned fish and toilet paper. Since then, consumers have gone back home and organized their lives so they go out as seldom as possible.
“According to an Angus Reid survey conducted on March 3, 18% of Canadians were either avoiding the grocery store or intending to avoid it,” says Sylvain Charlebois, professor of food distribution policy and senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “Two weeks later, 52% were intending to avoid shopping for food.” By the end of April, “only 17% of consumers had no fear of going to the grocery store.”
The attempt to avoid food shopping has affected the quantity of goods purchased. The figures speak for themselves: by April 4, 2020, the chains followed by Nielsen, notably the major supermarkets plus Walmart and Costco, had already racked up sales of $195 million more than for the whole of 2019, and the increase was across the board for all food products.