COVID-19 – consumers shift to online shopping

More than 50% of Chinese and U.S. customers have deliberately bought groceries online due to corona

Experts around the world and across all sectors agree that the COVID-19 pandemic will have substantial impact on all economies and industries, offline and online. While stationary retail suffers from lockdowns, online retail faces delivery problems and reduced purchasing power. Analysts hold back with definite statements and forecasts on industry KPIs and company figures, with infections still rising, new hotspots emerging every day and no all-clear signals in sight.

In order to find out how consumers behave during the corona crisis, Statista has started to conduct daily surveys on how people feel about the pandemic, how it influences their daily lives and how they have changed the way the shop and spend. One part of the COVID-19 Barometer deals with the question whether people prefer to buy certain products online rather than in store, now that governments are recommending or ordering people to stay at home. Last week – between March 30 and April 5 – citizens in China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States answered as follows:

COVID-19 - consumers shift to online shopping
In China and the U.S., most people deliberately shifted to online purchases for at least one product or service in the wake of the corona crisis. Only 10% in each country stated that they had not deliberately bought anything online due to COVID-19. In Germany and the UK, this is fundamentally different. Half of citizens in those countries have not shifted to online shopping in any product or services category (49% in Germany, 50% in the UK).

Those who have, also seem to prefer different products than U.S. and Chinese respondents. With 16% of answers, clothing is the product that most Germans seem to buy online deliberately because of the corona pandemic. In the UK, the most popular products are groceries, which are now ordered at supermarkets rather than bought offline by 22%. Hygiene products, which are highly popular among Chinese and U.S. respondents, only come in third and fifth in the UK and Germany, respectively. With an overwhelming 64%, hand sanitizers, toilet paper and the like are the most popular products of people deliberately buying online rather than offline in both the U.S. and China these days.

What is probably most striking about the survey: The very similar – for some products even equal – results in the United States and China. It seems that the two countries are closer than one might think – at least in their reaction to corona.


Note: This chart only depicts a fraction of the Statista COVID-19 Barometer. The whole statistic on online shopping can be found here. For more statistics on the topic, please find the whole survey here.


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April 2020