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Consumer Behavior Keeps Shifting Due to COVID-19 Pandemic – Part 1

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Consumer Behavior Keeps Shifting Due to COVID-19 Pandemic – Part 1 - ©iStockphoto.com/kupicoo

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting consumer behavior, specifically shopping habits. We discussed the differences in attitudes across age groups and genders. In this two-part series, we’ll look into the latest data on how consumer behavior is continuously changing, especially in countries that are still under stay-at-home or shelter in place orders.

New habits are being formed

Given the current global situation, it’s not surprising that there’s an increase in e-commerce orders. The spike since early March in the US and Canada has been significant—with online orders going up by 80% and buyers converting 8.8% more than the same period last year1. However, this isn’t unique to North America. Europeans are also placing more online orders, with pure-play e-commerce brands seeing an average increase of 40% to 80% year-on-year growth2.

To illustrate, take a look at Emarsys and Good Data’s interactive map tracking how Covid-19 is affecting consumer expenditure across the globe2:

Year-over-year growth rate of online transactions from ccinsight.org * Year-Over-Year Growth Rate of Online Transactions


Furthermore, recent research indicates that the drastic increase in e-commerce sales may not only be attributed to the shift from offline to online in shopping. For example, there are consumers that have supplementary income or more time in their hands who are picking up new activities or hobbies to keep busy at home. This could become a growing factor contributing to the growth of online sales in the coming months3. If so, it could mean that new and lasting habits outside of shopping are being adopted by consumers due to the restrictions in place. This could be a positive development for some brands as this development may indicate a new or expanded consumer base – one that they will have to engage with if they want to transition them into long-term customers.

Contrasts across age groups

Our previous piece examined how different age groups have reacted to the pandemic, and found a stark contrast between them. However, more recent surveys show that ongoing restrictions are blurring the lines between age groups in some areas, such as how respondents are being financially affected by the pandemic4:

  • 24% from the age group 30 to 44 years old
  • 28% from the age group 45 to 64 years old
  • 21% from 65 and older

That said, millennials continue to be the most cautious and concerned group when it comes to financial matters, with an Elon University4 survey finding that worries over “personal financial situation” still vary per age group:

  • 80% from the age group 25 to 44 years old
  • 78% from the age group 18 to 24 years old
  • 74% from the age group 45 to 64 years old
  • 62% of those 65 and older
Another poll found that 59% of millennials have taken or planned to take steps to save cash due to the pandemic’s effects on the economy.

We must remember that most of this research was gathered in mid-March in the US. This  period marked the beginning of the restrictive living phase across the country, and therefore, attitudes regarding financial stability and overall concerns about COVID-19 may have changed in the weeks after. However, it is important for businesses to follow these trends, as they will provide glimpses into the concerns and emerging needs of every age group after the social distancing restrictions end.

That’s it for part one! In part two we’ll look into other trends, including how e-commerce is being affected in countries that have started to ease their lockdown policies.


  1. https://ccinsight.org/observations/online-orders-up-80-in-north-america-since-january-how-are-consumers-changing-habits/ 
  2. https://ccinsight.org  
  3. https://ccinsight.org/observations/lockdowns-continuing-to-produce-growth-for-pure-e-commerce-brands-in-europe/ 
  4. https://content-na1.emarketer.com/varying-attitudes-among-age-groups-towards-coronavirus-show-that-marketers-need-to-look-past-anecdotal-stereotypes