The world is currently dealing with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. From the closure of many non-essential businesses to employees being forced to work from home, COVID-19 is affecting all areas of everyday life. One area where coronavirus is having a continuous effect is on our shopping habits. Below we explore how online consumer behaviour is changing in light of COVID-19.

Are people spending more time online due to coronavirus?

It is believed that people are spending more time online due to the pandemic. App Annie has reported that the weekly time spent on apps has risen 20% since the pandemic on android devices and users are spending 15% more on purchasing iOS apps. So, why are people spending more time online? Possible explanations could include…

• As more than 9 million people are expected to be furloughed, those not working will have much more free time on their hands to spend online.

• As people cannot socialise or go to venues and events, they will look to online platforms to connect with others.

• As non-key workers are being asked to work from home, people will have more time to spend online as they do not have a daily commute and will perform even everyday tasks like grocery shopping and exercise with the help of online tools and apps.

How are people spending their time online?

Consumer behaviour is changing online as people seek to replace businesses and services shut down by lockdown regulations through the internet. For example, since gyms have been closed down, interest in exercise-related content has risen by over 100%. It seems that individuals are increasingly focused on adding more years to their life during the pandemic, as interest in weight loss related content has decreased by 13%.

One of the many problems people are facing during the pandemic is working from home and boredom, and this is reflected in consumer online behaviour. For example, the sale of DIY products has risen 14% and the sale of electrical goods has risen 42% as people try to set up a productive workspace and fill their free time with DIY work. The sale of online clothes has fallen 27%, as people have fewer social occasions to wear clothes to.

What products are trending during the pandemic?

As you would perhaps expect, the sale of virus protection equipment has surged since the pandemic has begun. eCommerce purchases of gloves, antibacterial spray, masks and hand sanitiser have risen by a staggering 817%.

How are social restrictions affecting consumer behaviour?

Due to social restrictions that prevent people from different households mixing, there has been an increase of individuals using video conference apps and social media. In February 2020, 2.22 million users downloaded the video conferencing app Zoom, which is more users than it gained in the whole of 2019. People are spending more time on social media, but brands are posting less than ever. This may because they are running with reduced staff during the pandemic, or they are unsure of how their online platforms should handle the pandemic topic. Moving forward, more money is expected to be spent on social media advertising as the world continues to handle the pandemic, to capitalise on the extra time consumers are spending online.