We’d Love To Hear About Your Project

    Estimated Budget

    Upload An RFP( 10Mb Max ) PDF, Doc, Docx, JPG, Gif, Png

    5 min read

    How Are Shopping Habits Changing and What Can Businesses Do?

    By Latoya Bryan

    It’s fair to say that many will remember 2020 and 2021 as years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several big businesses across the United States filed for bankruptcy during this period, and an alarming number of stores shut shop. Besides, the pandemic also had an effect on consumer behavior, leading to a transformation in the way they shop. So, how have shopping habits changed over recent years?


    For starters, online and bulk buying has gained more traction than before, and the upward trajectory began when social distancing norms were firmly in place. According to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, eCommerce sales accounted for close to 16% of the total retail sales in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2021, up from around 12% in the first quarter of 2020. In the third quarter of 2023, this number stood at around 15%.


    Sure, consumers moved passed the panic buying stage that set in during the pandemic, but it definitely had a long-term effect on purchasing behavior in different ways.


    How are consumer habits changing?

    Number Speak

    While there was a growth in online sales during the pandemic, not all sectors experienced similar benefits. According to a 2020 survey of online consumers from nine countries carried out by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), when it came to consumers who make at least one online purchase every two months:

    • There was a 10% increase in the sale of ICT/electronic goods.
    • The pharmaceutical/health sector saw a 9% increase in sales.
    • There was a 9% increase in the sale of gardening and DIY tools.
    • There was an 8% increase in spending on education and online courses.
    • The home furniture and household goods sector witnessed a 7% jump.


    However, there was a fall in average spending, and sectors that suffered the most included:

    • Travel and tourism (-75%)
    • Home furniture and household goods (-53%)
    • ICT/electronic goods (-48%)
    • Fashion and accessories (43%)


    The need for consumers to turn online is great for eCommerce in some sectors. After all, businesses that give consumers the ability to experience products and services from their own homes can reach out to much wider audiences. If you look at the SARS crisis of 2002-2003, you can notice significant expansion and growth of Alibaba and JD.com around the same time. What this means is businesses need to understand how consumer habits are changing and address them quickly and efficiently.


    How Shopping Has Changed Over the Years?

    If you’re wondering “How have people’s shopping habits changed over the past 5 years?” know that the COVID-19 pandemic affected consumers’ online shopping habits in different ways. From the point of view of a business, here’s what you need to know.


    Redistribution in Consumer Loyalty

    When COVID-19 restrictions were in place, a number of people became first-time online purchasers of groceries and a range of staple products. Now, shopping online has become the new norm, especially for staples, and a distinct pattern of growth in this sector has already emerged.


    Consider these numbers surrounding shopping habits and behaviors of online consumers collated by Mailmodo:

    • More than 2.14 billion people worldwide make online purchases, which is 27% of the entire population.
    • 28% of consumers in the U.S. who make offline purchases use their mobile phones to read reviews, compare prices, and look for discounts.
    • Female online shoppers make an average of seven purchases per year, and this number stands at five for their male counterparts.
    • 80% of online shoppers are more inclined to make purchases when offered free shipping.
    • Over 80% of online shoppers find their shopping experiences satisfactory.
    • More than 90% of parents say Gen Z children influence their household spending decisions.
    • There has been a 40% growth in the use of digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and PayPal from 2022 to 2024.

    Looking to Grow Your eCommerce Revenue?Request a Quote

    When it comes to how shopping has changed over the years, you need to understand that modern-day consumers use the internet to carry out adequate research and make buying /spending decisions in accordance. By looking at their behavior and identifying early indications of changing actions, businesses can successfully manage their supply chain networks.


    Given that it can take seven times more money to acquire a new customer when opposed to retaining an existing one, businesses need to switch their focus from customer acquisition to customer retention. This becomes particularly important for brick-and-mortar businesses that are trying to find a foothold in the online world.


    When a consumer forms a habit, be it a shopping habit or a habit of any other kind, it typically takes around 21 days for it to become a norm. Businesses that wish to make the best of changing consumer behavior get this much time to make their impact felt.


    Some Sectors Experienced Significant Growth

    Some sectors that build on people’s need to remain socially distant saw considerable growth during the pandemic. While these included essentials, digital entertainment found an increasing number of takers as well. Since then, an entire gamut of “new essentials” has become available for the taking, which includes home improvement supplies, sporting goods, toys, and office supplies.


    Subscriptions to online platforms such as Netflix and Spotify witnessed a noticeable surge; so much so that the European Union got Netflix to slow down its speed by 25% to make sure that broadband networks continued performing properly.


    While consumers lined up to register with online services that aimed to make the buying process more convenient, even some industry leaders such as Amazon found it hard to keep pace with the slew of orders.


    Phone and video conferencing apps saw a significant rise in use as well, not just by businesses that had employees working from home, but also by online retailers that tried to make the best of social distancing and home isolation norms.


    How shopping has changed over the years?

    Computers are Back

    When it comes to how shopping habits changed due to COVID-19, one effect is that there has been an increase in the number of people who use computers, be it laptops or desktops. Data collated by EnterpriseAppsToday indicates that:

    • 89% of households in the U.S. own personal computers.
    • Between 2024 and 2029, computer ownership in the U.S. is set to increase from 4.7 million to 120.45 million.
    • The average time spent on computers globally is two hours and 51 minutes per day.
    • In 2024, the value of the U.S. personal computer market is $56.39 billion.


    While using responsive web design continues to remain important, businesses need to come to terms with the fact that consumers are spending more time at computers than before.


    Thanks to working remotely, several people are at home for extended durations, and it is natural for them to spend more time at their desktops or laptops when compared to their mobile phones. For many, computers present a simpler and better way to shop, especially when it involves comparisons.


    The focus in the last few years has been on following a mobile-first approach. However, while there is a need to optimize online content for mobile devices – and this will not change – it is important to keep desktops and laptops in mind too. For instance, a website should be able to handle any increase in traffic, because close to 50% of users don’t wait for more than two seconds for a website to load.


    At this stage, businesses should look at making the most of the increase in web traffic by focusing on creating great user experiences. However, while most consumers engage with websites that are attractive and well-designed, a majority of digital agencies are of the opinion that their clients’ websites can do much better when it comes to user experience.


    Businesses need to look at this as an opportunity, as it gives them the ability to reach out to wider markets and attract more potential customers. While this requires ensuring that the supply chain remains unaffected, you also need to employ suitable digital marketing strategies to produce desired results.

    Looking To Boost Your eCommerce Business Online?Request a Quote

    What Businesses Need to Do

    There has been a steady rise in eCommerce over the last couple of decades, although the COVID-19 pandemic definitely accelerated the pace. It is safe to say that eCommerce will only continue to grow in the coming times.


    According to statistics released by Statista, global eCommerce retail sales accounted for around $3.35 trillion in 2019. It increased to $4.24 trillion in 2020, $$4.98 trillion in 2021, and $5.31 trillion in 2022. It stood at $5.78 trillion in 2023 and might cross the eight trillion dollar mark by 2027.


    As a result, if your business does not have an online presence yet, now is as good a time to start. This might include getting your branding right, creating a user-friendly responsive website, and making your presence felt on different social media platforms.


    Businesses need to understand that there is a much bigger pool of prospective customers in the online world now than five years ago. They need to engage with existing and potential customers seamlessly, while trying to boost sales and increase customer retention.


    Small and mid-sized businesses can use this opportunity to make their mark felt and increase their outreach, all the more so when larger players struggle with overloaded services. The two main aspects that require attention in this case include providing a great online shopping experience and effective engagement with your target audience.


    The eCommerce Supply Chain Problem

    The changes in online consumer shopping habits and behavior require that businesses pay due attention to supply chains and communications. When the pandemic was at its peak, manufacturing units stopped production in several countries, with the closure of many apparel factories shutting shop in China, India, and Bangladesh serving as prime examples.


    If any such scenario repeats, businesses will need to come up with suitable short-term responses to tackle the problems they face. These include, but do not limit to:

    • Ensure employee and customer safety while trying to optimize production as well as distribution capacities.
    • Come up with a list of critical components, determine the origin of their supply, and look for alternative sources of procurement.
    • Get estimates of available inventory that you might need to bridge any possible supply chain gap.
    • Carry out a realistic assessment of customer demands during shortage-buying behavior.
    • Determine logistical capabilities while being flexible on modes of transportation.
    • Understand where supply-chain problems might have adverse financial impacts, and manage cash flow accordingly.


    Businesses that depend on regional supply chains seem to have been more resilient because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it might make sense to think about localized operations as far as possible.


    Businesses that face logistical problems should take extra measures to communicate with their customers about aspects such as the availability of stock and any possible delays in shipping. This is because you cannot expect any good to come from reaching out to a large online audience and overpromising while being unable to deliver.

    How have people's shopping habits changed

    New Shopping Behaviors are Here to Stay

    Various eCommerce trends that came to the fore owing to the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to stay in place. For instance, several consumers who started shopping online for essentials continue to do so even now. In addition, many who shifted to getting more value for their money have kept up with the trend and might do so long into the future.



    The growth of eCommerce in the last decade has been phenomenal. Changes in online consumer shopping habits and behavior during and soon after the COVID-19 pandemic worked as a catalyst to speed it up even more. While one can say with certainty that online retail will overtake traditional retail in not too distant a future, just when it might happen is anybody’s guess.


    Businesses – both online and offline – need to take this opportunity to reach out to their target audience in the best possible manner, while trying to build long-standing relationships with them. Remember that understanding how shopping habits have changed over recent years and following strategic measures are bound to pay huge dividends. Partnering with a digital marketing agency might be the way to go, especially if you don’t have an in-house team to handle this very crucial aspect.

    Ready to Boost Your Business Online?

    Request A Quote

      Let's create something amazing together

      click link