Analysis: Changing Consumer Behaviour During the Covid-19 Pandemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe we are seeing differences in consumer behaviours across markets. We’ve dug into our own data at ChannelSight to analyse consumer behaviour in three major markets, United States, Germany and United Kingdom, during the weeks before and after lockdowns were introduced. Levels of restrictions vary across these markets, as does the data of implemented restrictions. However, in general, restrictions were enforced in these markets in the week of March 23rd. We’ve specifically looked at market data in the categories of Consumer Electronics, Consumer Packaged Goods, and White Goods and our analysis spans from three weeks before lockdown right up to present day, which is now one week post lockdown for three major markets.

Market Data Insights

Graph 1

In graph 1 above, (scroll through for additional graphs), looking at the United States we can see that levels of online sales leads – or click data – according to our own collective client data, reached a peak a week before lockdown. This is a sure sign of panic buying in anticipation of the impending restrictions. This same growth trend was also mirrored in sales in physical bricks and mortar stores at the time, before restrictions were put in place in the US. Media in the US reported that there were low stock on shelves, and long queues to get into stores during this time.

By contrast, the data we are seeing in Europe is quite different. We are seeing a far more gradual rise in leads/click data (also in graph 1) in Germany and the UK. Traffic is growing as the pandemic evolves in those countries, and continued to grow relatively consistently after lockdowns were introduced. 

Decrease in the US

ecommerce insights
Graph 2

As shown in our click data (graph 1), and online sales data (graph 2) traffic and online sales in the United States actually decreased after lockdown measures were implemented. There are a couple of factors at play here. Many items were appearing as out of stock on digital shelves due to the aforementioned panic buying, leading to a sharp decline in online sales.

Another reason for this sharp decline, specifically in the US, is the seismic shift by Amazon to online fulfill essential goods. This decision by Amazon has had a profound effect on brands who are reliant on the retail giant for fulfillment. This is especially relevant to smaller brands that do not have alternative methods in place for fulfillment.

A Different Story in Europe

The data we are seeing in the United States is in sharp contrast with what we are seeing in Europe. We’ve focused on Germany and the United Kingdom for the purposes of this analysis. Both these markets are seeing gradual increases in online sales since restrictions were imposed. In Germany, when we look at sales in particular (graph 5, below), they seemed to level off somewhat after lockdown restrictions were imposed. In the UK they continued to rise. 

Conversions from leads to sales

ecommerce insights
Graph 3

Looking at sales data across all the three markets, we can see in the individual charts per market (graphs 3, 4 and 5) that growth of sales revenue is quite different across each market. From our analysis, these conversion rates from leads to sales are certainly higher than our 2019 market benchmark. This implies that consumers are making quicker decisions, and are spending a little more freely than they normally would. 

ecommerce insights
Graph 4
Graph 5

One factor that may be at play here is the size of baskets leading to higher sales figures. We are finding that consumers are exhibiting different behaviours than they normally would. They are purchasing various product combinations that we do not see often – see more in our infographic here. Consumers are also filling their baskets with more products than normal. Graphs 3, 4 and 5 show click traffic data alongside sales/revenue data per market. We can see (graph 3) that even though click traffic was slowing in the US post lockdown, sales remained steady from lockdown week through to present day. This implies that consumers are filling their baskets more, another shift in consumer behaviour. In addition, consumers are following through on more purchases per consumer than in the weeks previously. 

By contrast, the data from Germany (graph 5) show a far more consistent growth pattern across click data and sales data. Similarly in the United Kingdom (graph 4), we are seeing consistent growth across sales data, but a levelling off in terms of click data.

Want to understand your consumers better?

ChannelSight’s brand performance team is providing updated insights into the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour, brands and retailers. If you would like more information and insights, please feel free to reach out to us here.