COVID-19: The Impact on CPG & Retail

Since COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic in September, American shopping habits have changed dramatically and fundamentally. This has left the retail and consumer packaged goods industries (CPG) to adapt and thrive to an unprecedented level. With stricter social distancing and quarantine guidelines in all 50 states, consumers are changing not only what they buy, but also how they shop.

Our ongoing research into the effects of COVID-19 in grocery shopping habits revealed that many shoppers made fewer grocery store visits by March than the previous weeks. 47% of those who visited a mass merchant in March reported that they made fewer trips. Many people are now willing to shop online to save money and avoid the hassle of going to stores. In March, 28 percent of online grocery shoppers placed their first online order.

We are now seeing a rise in pantry food purchases after a shift from shopper’s initial focus to buying paper and cleaning products. The trend towards stocking up is increasing. About half of U.S. shoppers made additional grocery trips to stock up in the week ended March 29, as opposed to 34% of those who did so in the week ended March 15.

Consumers are now looking for alternatives to stock outs. Brands have changed their operations to meet this demand. They now focus on producing the most desirable and in-demand items. Brands should continue to collaborate with retailers and be flexible in order to meet evolving demands as they implement new supply chains strategies.

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Retailers have other options than just stocking the essentials. They can also offer better customer service by offering additional opportunities. Retailers should offer comfort foods to provide some relief during difficult times. To help parents decide what to put on their plates next, it is important that retailers offer budget-friendly, creative meal options both in-stores and online.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to secure a desired grocery delivery or pickup slot. Many shoppers are now constantly refreshing their web pages, sometimes staying awake until the wee hours of the morning to see if new slots become available. Online shopping is becoming more popular. To cater to shoppers who prefer ecommerce, retailers need to expand pickup/delivery times and online ordering fulfillment. Manufacturers should also ensure that online product images and descriptions are searchable and shopper-friendly. Retailers should keep implementing new measures to reduce the risk to shopper transmission and employees shopping in physical stores. These include aisle flow solutions and expanded cashierless checkout options.

Manufacturers should take the time to review their brand marketing messages to ensure they are shopper-friendly. Manufacturers should temporarily discontinue or adjust their messaging if it isn’t.

Retailers and manufacturers have been doing everything they can to satisfy shoppers’ changing needs for more than a month. This consumer-focused approach will continue to be crucial in this crisis. As we adjust to our current reality, and prepare for the future post-COVID, consumers will continue to shift in the coming weeks and days.

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CVS and Walgreens Increase Coronavirus Testing Sites

Walgreens and drugstore chains CVS are now offering free coronavirus testing. CVS Health announced it will offer self-swab testing to those who meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria starting May. This is in addition to the large-scale testing that CVS Health has been providing at certain locations in five states since March. Up to 1,000 CVS stores will offer the new self-swab test for free by May’s end. This is more than one of 10 company stores. Patients can schedule their tests online, and they will be tested at CVS drive-thru or parking lots. The company will not conduct testing in its stores. Walgreens also announced that it will open free drive-thru nose-swab testing locations in 49 states and Puerto Rico. Once fully operational, the company expects to test more people than 50,000 per week.

Total Retail’s Consideration: The plan to reopen economy after nearly two months of lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is at the core of the plan. Retail has been especially hard hit by the virus. Many stores were closed due to safety concerns. It’s encouraging to learn that CVS and Walgreens will be able to provide testing necessary to get our lives back on track. They also allow people to shop in other retail outlets. CVS and Walgreens are more than pharmacy chains. They also position themselves as healthcare providers. These brands live up to their claims by offering COVID-19 free testing

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