Blog | March 31, 2020

Numerator Canada 3/31: The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Canadian Consumer Behaviour

In addition to its impact on individuals and communities, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has notably impacted retailers and manufacturers around the globe. Some brands are struggling to keep products on the shelves while others are having difficulty navigating through sudden decreases in sales as consumers are shifting their shopping priorities.

Access the latest version of these insights here. We will continue to keep all prior iterations of these survey insights available on our blog.

During these past few weeks, our clients have been looking for answers, and we’ve been surveying US consumers to learn how Coronavirus has impacted their buying behaviours. We are now expanding our North American footprint with the launch of the Numerator Canadian OmniPanel to deliver critical and timely insights around the Canadian consumer.

Leveraging the Numerator Canadian OmniPanel, we fielded a survey through 3/24 and saw that Canadian consumer behaviour has been slightly less impacted by COVID-19 than US consumer behaviour. However, despite being less impacted at this time, the level of concern regarding COVID-19 is higher among Canadian consumers than US consumers.

Have Canadian consumers changed their purchase behaviour in response to Coronavirus?

85% of Canadian consumers say their shopping behaviour has been impacted by Coronavirus. This is slightly less than the 88% of US consumers who said the same. Gen Z has seen the greatest impact in Canada, with 96% claiming effect, higher than any other generation in Canada, and higher than all generations— including Gen Z— in the US.

At this time, Canadian consumers seem to be slightly less impacted across most areas of impact when compared to US consumers. More than half (62%) experienced product shortages in the past week, compared to 79% of US consumers. Stock-up behaviour, buying products not usually bought, and shopping in stores not usually shopped all trailed behind the US. Many Canadian consumers also cited impacts not previously listed, and the majority of these were related to “shopping less,” “making fewer trips overall,” or “only shopping for groceries.”

Are Canadian consumers avoiding brick-and-mortar and shifting their purchases online?

In light of Coronavirus, 29% of Canadian consumers say they are making online purchases when they normally would have shopped in-store. Though this is a smaller percent than we’ve seen in the US, it’s only slightly so. It appears Canadians may be adopting online shopping more quickly and broadly than US consumers— they also appear to have been shopping online less regularly than US consumers prior to the outbreak, meaning their adoption involves a bit of catch-up to their US counterparts.

Nearly 1 in 10 Canadian consumers (9%) who made an online purchase in March said it was their first time ever or first time in the past six months shopping online, more than twice the number of US consumers (4%). Less than half (40%) of Canadian consumers said online shopping had already been a part of their normal routine, compared to 52% of US consumers.

Almost 4 in 10 Canadian consumers (38%) who made a click-and-collect purchase in March were doing it for the first time or the first time in six months. This was slightly higher than US consumers (32%).

What is the general sentiment of Canadian consumers regarding Coronavirus?

Nearly all individuals surveyed indicated a level of concern regarding Coronavirus. Level of concern between Canadian consumers and US consumers are fairly aligned, with Canadians showing a slightly higher level of concern. This heightened concern is interesting, given Canadian consumers have not yet been as heavily impacted as US consumers, but may stem from these Canadian consumers seeing the situation unfold in the US and other countries and anticipating similar impacts.

Canadian consumers are most worried about job losses, product shortages, ability to go about normal routines, and ability to get healthcare for non-COVID related illnesses. Compared to US consumers, Canadians’ level of concern is significantly lower with regards to local business impacts, product shortages, adhering to their normal routines or canceling upcoming travel.

Looking Ahead

During this time of uncertainty, we appreciate the opportunity to support brands as they support their consumers. The new Numerator Canadian OmniPanel brings a modern solution to the Canadian Market with the largest, most representative, omnichannel view of consumer purchasing behaviour— launching now when timely and comprehensive insights are vital to every brand’s business.

Numerator will be closely monitoring the situation to ensure brands and retailers have the most up-to-date information on consumer behaviour. For more information on how your brand or category is affected by COVID-19— in Canada or in the United States— please get in touch with us.

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