Survey Highlights The Effect of COVID-19 on Consumer’s Capability to Purchase Day-to-Day Food

People have shared their experience of supermarket shopping next the recent phase of panic-buying and consequent limitations, with many reporting problems buying basic goods.

survey carry out last month asked customers about the crash of the virus on their capability to purchase day-to-day food and goods during February and March – the height of the panic-buying occurrence.

Key workers and vulnerable people report being badly affect with around 65% of respondents in both category struggling to buy necessary items such as fresh food and household goods.

The majority hard-to-get products integrated toilet roll, pasta, flour, and eggs.


People in the vulnerable category also reported difficulty obtain over the counter medicines.

Which item has been out-of-stock most?

  • Toilet roll: 14%
  • Pasta: 12%
  • Flour: 11%
  • Eggs: 11%
  • Rice: 10%
  • Kitchen towels: 8%
  • Canned goods: 8%
  • Milk: 7%
  • Bread: 7%
  • Meat: 5%
  • Cooking oil: 4%
  • Fish: 3%

Dr. Uchitha Jayawickrama, of the School of Business and Economics (SBE), at Loughborough University, said: “Empty shelves we saw at the beginning of the virus was just the tip of the iceberg.


“This study gave some risky insight on which product category and items were out of stock, and how this virus affected different consumer groups.

“One of the troubling conclusion was the problems pertaining to online grocery purchasing method.

“This has been negatively affecting key workers and vulnerable groups.”

Participant in the survey also highlighted the difficulties they faced when it came to online grocery shopping – unavailability of online delivery slots (including click and collect slots), stable out of stock, low-quality product delivery and unnecessary replacement.

More than 85% said packaged foods (e.g. flour, pasta, rice, etc.) were out-of-stock about every time or regularly when they tried to buy their goods from supermarket websites.

Some 95% of the people also assumed they thought the limits on food and other actions taken to curb panic-buying were essential.though, the majority indicate that thought the actions took too long to put in place.

And 79% said it was essential to ration pharmaceutical goods such as hand sanitizer and pain killers.

The most trendy store used by participant was Tesco, with 71% of people shopping there in February and March.

Which supermarkets contain you been using during the coronavirus crisis?

  • Tesco: 73.1%
  • Sainsburys: 39.4%
  • Aldi: 35.5%
  • Asda: 33%
  • Morrisons: 28.7%
  • Lidl: 24.4%
  • Co-op: 22.2%
  • M&S: 15.8%
  • Waitrose: 13.3%
  • Iceland: 11.1%
  • Spar: 2.5%

Other key Findings Integrated:

  • One out of each two shoppers buy solely in-store slightly than online
  • The most essential products highlighted were fresh food, packaged food (flour, pasta, rice), household items and frozen things
  • Most shoppers said several of these products were out-of-stock for the period of February and March (both in-store and online)
  • More products were available in April; still, the most essential items were still unavailable
  • Two out of every three key workers, and the same number of susceptible people, said they found it difficult to fulfill their basic shopping requirements during February and March
  • Six out of every 10 low-income shoppers also said they struggled to complete basic shopping requirements
  • Eight out of every 10 shoppers said they were fulfilled with steps taken by supermarkets to ration products
  • Seven out of every 10 participant did not know about any Government actions to assist with supply food to supermarket.                                            

The study was carried out soon after the Government and food industry had taken ladder to improve the consistency and function of food supply chains.

Former this month, the answer was submitted as proof to the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (EFRA) parliament committee as part of its inquiry into ‘COVID-19 and food supply’.

The next stage of the research will look at possible solution for tackling the issues raised by shoppers.

Source: Loughborough University

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