How the Coronavirus Pandemic Could Change People’s Buying Habits Forever

Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, consumers may be developing new habits. And some of those behaviors could be a boon to business for online retailers, according to a Coresight Research survey conducted last week.

As the outbreak continues, two-thirds of people surveyed said they plan to make more online buys. Plus, more than a third of respondents said they plan to shop more online and less in stores over the long term after having experienced this unprecedented international emergency.

Although panicked shoppers are stocking up on groceries and other household staples, the Coresight report shows that consumers are tightening their purse strings these days when it comes to nonessentials. Just under 13% of Coresight respondents said they were reducing their purchases in the apparel and footwear category.

Additionally, a majority of Coresight survey respondents (72%) said they would avoid shopping malls as the outbreak worsens, with about 64% saying they would avoid all shops more broadly.  And on another tepid note for the fashion industry, many fashion retailers have closed all doors in the United States for the time being due to the coronavirus outbreak, which is likely to bring down comp-store sales.

Amid the temporary store closures, e-commerce could be a bright light for some fashion brands: One in three people surveyed by Coresight said that in light of the outbreak, they plan to buy more apparel online than they currently do.

Although online sales could be poised to rise, retailers are expecting in-store sales to decline as outposts remain shut. Many retailers have closed their doors through the end of March or early April due to social distancing recommendations and government mandates in states such as New York, California and Illinois that have ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses. Public health experts, though, say those closures could last longer. Due to the uncertainty of the current situation, several major footwear companies, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Skechers and TJX Co., have withdrawn their guidance.

Globally, over 362,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins data, with nearly 15,500 fatalities. In the United States, cases have climbed to over 41,000, and more than 500 people have died.

On March 17 and 18, Coresight surveyed 1,152 U.S.-based internet users aged 18 and above about the impact of the coronavirus on their retail behaviors. The full report is available at Coresight.com.

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