Online Shopping Behavior During COVID-19

Online Shopping Behavior During COVID-19

What are the Changes in Online Shopping Behavior Amid Pandemic?

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the quick shift towards digital as people are restricted to have physical interactions. With this, changes in online shopping behavior have been observed recently.

The claims of new online shopping behavior are supported by a survey conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The UN agency talked to 3,700 consumers in nine emerging and developed countries. These include Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland, and Turkey.

According to the survey, over half of the respondents are now doing their shopping online more frequently amid the pandemic. Besides, they are subscribing to the internet more to be updated about the news, health-related content, and entertainment.

It appears that the digital world is here to stay even after the pandemic. UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said that the changes in online shopping behavior would have lasting effects as the global economy is making its way toward recovery.

Also, the UNCTAD official stressed that the accelerated adoption of online shopping signals that the countries all over the world should transition to digital as well already.

Online Purchase Vs Consumer Spending

According to the survey, online purchases in the said countries increased by 6 to 10 percentage points in many product categories. UNCTAD surveyed with Netcomm Suisse eCommerce Association, Brazilian Network Information Center, and Inveon.

Online purchases for information and communication technology and electronic goods rose the highest with 10-percentage point gain. This was followed by pharmaceutical and health; and tools, gardening, and do-it-yourself products at 9 percentage points each.

Meanwhile, other products with significant increase amid the pandemic were education and online courses; home furniture and household products; and cosmetics and personal care.

On the other hand, the average online monthly spending per shopper dramatically decreased. It was noted that consumers from emerging and developed economies halted their big-ticket purchases amid a major economic downturn. This, as they focus their budget on the essentials first. It was expected because cash flows may be restrained amid high unemployment due to lockdown measures limiting business operations.

Spending on tourism and travel, such as hotel bookings and flight tickets, declined the most at 75 percent. This was followed by home furniture and household products at 53 percent; and information and communication technology and electronic goods at 48 percent. The following are the other items that saw a decline in monthly average spending:

  • Fashion and accessories, 43 percent
  • Tools, gardening, and do-it-yourself, 35 percent
  • Cosmetics and personal care, 32 percent
  • Education and online courses, 29 percent
  • Digital entertainment, 28 percent
  • Media and books, 27 percent,
  • Pharmaceutical and health, 23 percent
  • Agro foods and beverages, 11 percent

These are some of the changes in online shopping behavior that the survey noted.

Considering the Safety When Purchasing Online

Looking at online shopping behavior, it must be noted that people are buying via digital platforms to avoid getting infected with the coronavirus. Still, there are concerns if receiving a package from online purchases is considered safe.

While there are no conclusive findings yet, experts have been saying that the virus can live on surfaces of the package from three hours to three days. With this, the virus is not expected to survive during the time that package was being delivered. In addition, shipping conditions might also not be an ideal environment for the virus to thrive.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the spread of the virus from products or packaging has only a very low risk given the ambient temperatures.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization also put the public at ease by releasing a statement on the matter. The health agency said that it is safe to receive packages, even those coming from locations with reported coronavirus cases.

Online Shopping Behavior During COVID-19

Panic Buying Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

During the beginning of the pandemic, consumer behavior drastically changed as all eyes focused on the essentials, as mentioned. With this, people began stocking up quickly with things like medical supplies, hand sanitizers, masks, and foods. The demand was so big that both physical and online stores were finding it difficult to provide the needed goods.

Panic buying as a reaction amid a crisis was expected. Experts said that people tend to try to find some control during an uncertain and risky situation. By doing so, they are seeking some relief, albeit temporary.

According to a consumer psychologist, panic buying is related to having the urge to be in control, doing something to benefit your own family, and having the need to feel like a smart shopper during a crisis.

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