Commenting on the latest consumer datasets (GfK’s consumer confidence figures and Kantar’s grocery market share data) and what these say about how consumers and consumer businesses are coping with COVID-19, Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer markets at KPMG, said: “Given the significant level of disruption caused by COVID-19 and the impact it’s having on everyone’s day-to-day lives, it’s unsurprising to learn that consumer confidence has retreated, while shopping behaviour has seemingly turned on its head.
“The decline in GfK’s consumer confidence figures show the growing levels of consumer anxiety being felt by us all, as the nation worries about its health first and foremost, but this also has significant ramifications for our economy. The decline in confidence preceded the nation’s formal ‘lockdown’, so in all likelihood the situation is now more acute than recorded. Businesses and consumers are having to grapple with the definition of essential versus non-essential purchases, and understandably the focus has to be on what’s needed, not necessarily what’s wanted, in these times. We aren’t likely to see major purchases being made until a degree of normality returns, with the focus instead being on essentials and whatever else can be sourced online.
“Focusing on necessities, we all know that grocers are on the front line where consumer industries are concerned. Kantar’s grocery market share data records unprecedented surges in demand in March, with the biggest month for grocery sales growth ever recorded. Grocery’s ability to keep the nation fed is quite remarkable really, and testament to the commitment of all the people working in those businesses and their supply chains, but shoppers do still need to exercise consideration for others when shopping.
“With the end date of this disruption still unclear, the consumer landscape could well change more permanently. The lock-down period we’re experiencing will certainly be long enough to form new shopping habits. Businesses would be wise to think carefully about how they can ensure they can adapt accordingly for whatever the new normal is.”