Younger Shoppers More Likely to Stockpile Amidst Coronavirus Crisis

53% of shoppers under 30 admit to hoarding products
Closeup of packs of toilet paper

If you’ve been struggling to find toilet paper and paper towels during the coronavirus pandemic, it may be because your 20-something neighbors have bought them all up, a new survey suggests.

One consequence of stay-at-home orders and social distancing efforts has been product shortages, especially as shoppers have attempted to limit their trips to brick-and-mortar stores. A newly released survey from retail software provider Convey found that while most consumers appear to be understanding of such shortages, some are also taking matters into their own hands to keep their pantries filled.

Younger consumers, in particular, appeared more likely to stockpile products. In fact, more than half (53%) of consumers between 18 and 29 admitted to “hoarding” products during the course of the coronavirus pandemic, moderately higher than the overall 42% of shoppers of all ages who said they had stockpiled.

The items most likely to be stockpiled were:

  • Food (41%)
  • Paper products, including toilet paper (32%)
  • Pantry staples (31%)

Support high for local businesses

Fear of contracting the coronavirus has led to a well-reported jump in online shopping, with 81% of those surveyed reporting ordering items from Amazon during the outbreak.

But while consumers may have an easier time of finding some items online, the majority of respondents said they want to support local retailers. In fact, 87% of shoppers said supporting local retailers was important or very important, with 79% of shoppers between 18-29 feeling this way.

However, such support seemed more focused on in-person shopping, as just 22% said they had bought products online from a local merchant.

Shoppers have low expectations

One reason consumers may be over-filling their shopping carts is because they don’t expect stores to keep the shelves filled with the essentials they need. Most shoppers surveyed (60%) said they don’t expect retailers to have every item they’re looking for in stock.

The good news for retailers is that consumers are, for the most part, understanding of the challenges retailers are facing when it comes to fulfilling orders. An overwhelming majority of consumers (94%) said they were willing to give retailers more time to deliver items.

  • 60% were fine with retailers taking an extra three to four days to deliver items
  • 19% said a five to six day delay was acceptable for delivering products
  • 17% were willing to wait longer than seven days for items to be delivered during the pandemic crisis

… But they don’t want surprises

There is one caveat, however: Consumers generally want retailers to be transparent about product delays and keep the lines of communication open. In fact, nearly 70% of consumers said they expect retailers to be more communicative during a crisis than during other times.

Most respondents (86%) said it was important for them to be told by retailers when an item was expected to arrive, and 75% said they would be more likely to purchase items from a retailer if the estimated date of delivery was provided. On the flip side, 70% of respondents said they were less likely to be repeat buyers from a retailer that did not let them know in advance about a delay in product delivery.

In all, 44% of respondents said having an estimated delivery date was the one feature that would convince them to shop online. The only features more enticing to online shoppers were free shipping (cited by 64% of respondents) and the ability to buy online and take advantage of curbside pickup (cited by 58% of respondents).

It’s worth noting that no matter where you shop, there are moves you can make to save money, especially when purchasing in bulk. For example, whether you’d prefer to buy essential items online or at your brick-and-mortar grocery store, consider using a payment tool that will benefit you. A credit card that awards points for grocery shopping could come in handy when buying in volume, as would membership in loyalty programs with discount offers.

Methodology: Convey surveyed more than 1,000 consumers to gauge how their shopping habits changed during the pandemic.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.