Americans Are Feeling Better Financially, But They Still Want Value
Customer data science company dunnhumby, which has been conducting “Consumer Pulse Surveys” worldwide throughout the pandemic, is reporting that Americans — for the first time since the pandemic began — are beginning to feel noticeably better about personal finances and are now prioritizing value over speed when they shop.
dunnhumby’s latest wave of surveys, which occurred in late February and is its seventh since the pandemic began, found that 58% of U.S. consumers reported that the U.S. economy is weak, a sharp drop of 17% from March 2020 when 75% reported the economy was weak. The study also found that 39% of consumers reported that their finances were poor, a drop of 15% from November when 54% reported their finances were in bad shape. dunnhumby also found that Americans are now at the lowest level of worry about the virus (23%) since the crisis began.
The study also revealed that value-seeking consumers (70%) far outstrip quality-seeking consumers (13%) in the U.S. Quality seekers are primarily shopping high-quality stores and are willing to pay more to get quality.
“While this wave marks the first time since the pandemic struck that consumers are feeling better financially, we are also seeing value-seeking driving shopping behavior,” said Grant Steadman, president for North America at dunnhumby. “It’s noteworthy that consumers are now prioritizing value instead of speed, which was their key driver for much of 2020.”
Here’s what else the latest study found:
• Consumers are utilizing multiple shopping tactics to seek value in the face of rising prices. After shopping at everyday low-price stores (52%), the most popular shopping tactics by consumers are: only buying some brands on sale (36%), stocking up on products that are on sale or promotion (36%), searching online to find the best sales (34%), searching online for coupons (34%) and buying private brands when available (33%).
• Online is now a fully adopted behavior and has grown stronger in every wave. Shopping in stores dropped from 77% of all trips in March 2020 to 64% in February 2021, while shopping online (pickup and delivery) has increased from 23% in March 2020 to 36% in February 2021. The number of online trips is also increasing. In March of 2020, consumers reported that online shopping trips made up 1.3 of their trips each week but by the end of February 2021 online trips now made up 3.6 of their trips each week.
• Consumer satisfaction with shopping online has been ahead of, or equal to shopping in store since September 2020. In addition, survey respondents reported a 53% net satisfaction for pickup and 49% for delivery.
• The pandemic-driven changes in shopping behavior are stabilizing. From the beginning of the pandemic, consumers shopped at stores when fewer people would be there (63%), made fewer trips to the store (74%) and spent more on each trip (38%). By the end of February 2021, 49% of consumers shopped at fewer stores, a 14% drop, and 53% made fewer trips to the store, a 21% drop, and just 21% spent more on each trip, a drop of 17%. In fact, respondents said they made 6.4 trips (including online) to the store weekly in February 2021 compared to 3.8 in March 2020. In February 2021, grocery led all retailers with the most weekly shopping trips (68%), followed by convenience stores (29%), hypermarkets/clubs (20%), discounters (20%) and pharmacies (15%).
• Walmart continues to dominate all stores when it comes to value. Thirty-three percent of respondents mentioned Walmart first when asked which stores provide the best value, followed by Kroger and Aldi both tied at 10%, and then by Amazon at 6%.