How COVID-19 is impacting boomers’ shopping behavior

The pandemic has shifted boomers' priorities

The coronavirus pandemic has forced consumers to adapt many aspects of their lives, from daily routines to how they safeguard themselves and their families. Even as many communities look to reopen, it is likely that the pandemic will continue to impact how consumers of all ages socialize and shop. This is particularly true for baby boomers, those ages roughly 56 to 74. New data from NRF’s Spring Consumer View study shows key ways the pandemic has shifted this demographic’s priorities and what it means for their interactions with brands and retailers.

Get grandma some blue light glasses

Stay-at home mandates and social distancing requirements mean boomers have moved more of their lives online. Nearly half (45%) say they’re shopping online more as a result of the pandemic, which is significant given that the vast majority (82%) typically make less than half of their purchases online. Certain categories have seen more of a shift to online, especially items that can help relieve boredom during a lockdown. Even Fido and Felix are getting spoiled — pet supplies, toys and books and other media are the products where more boomers have shifted their purchasing habits the most, with more buying mostly or entirely online as a direct result of COVID-19.

Buy online, pick up in store is becoming a go-to

It’s not just online shopping that has grown. Buy online, pick up in store has become increasingly popular during COVID-19, and boomers haven’t shied away from it. Over six in 10 are aware of BOPIS — more than any of their younger counterparts. Two-thirds have tried BOPIS; of those, 63 percent said it improved their overall shopping experience. The most common methods of BOPIS used by this generation are picking up at a store’s register (58%) and curbside pickup (30%). Regardless of which method they’ve tried, the overwhelming majority (over 80%) found their experience to be convenient. These shoppers found using a locker code and having items brought directly to their car to be the most convenient aspects of the service. Boomers are the most interested in trying curbside pickup. Why are they using it? The top reasons are to avoid paying for shipping, followed by social distancing or self-quarantine restrictions.

 

They’re embracing delivery services

Consumers have had to change their shopping behavior and adopt new strategies since the onset of COVID-19, and shipping services are proving to be helpful. With the onset of stay-at-home orders, over one-quarter of boomers have used a delivery service such as Shipt or Amazon Prime at least once in the past three months, and two in 10 have done so multiple times. One-quarter of those who haven’t yet used a delivery service are interested in trying it out. Given the impact of COVID-19, 61 percent of these shoppers say they’re using these types of delivery services more now than they used to, and over one-third are using them significantly more.

During these uncertain times, consumers are experiencing and adopting more digital channels, and this exposure to new ways of shopping will have a lasting impact. Boomers will still visit stores post-pandemic, but they’re likely to continue using these services in some capacity. Read more insights from NRF’s Consumer View studies.

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