Survey: Stockpiling Food and Increasing Online Store Popularity – the New Reality for Retail

  • 2022-05-30

The latest Maxima Retail Compass survey shows that people’s shopping habits have changed due to the impact of global events. The latest figures show that almost 80% of the public is currently holding on to new grocery shopping and eating habits developed over the past two years, and just 4% plan on returning to their prior habits. Our experts have highlighted the most significant trends in the public’s habits, placing particular emphasis on the “legacy” of the pandemic: stockpiling food and the popularity of online stores, which they believe will also remain relevant this year.

“Nowadays, for a retail business to remain successful, it is critically important to understand the audience and predict customer wants and needs, which may change regularly as their lifestyle changes. As the frequency of shopping is reduced, we have seen a marked migration to large-format stores this year. These hypermarkets offer a wider selection of goods and allow shoppers to purchase everything they need in one place and at higher volumes, so that they can visit the store less frequently,” explains Jeļena Popjonoka, Director of Business Analytics at Maxima Latvija.

In-person shopping gradually increasing 

Although the supermarket format has remained the most popular among the public even with the pandemic, its popularity has decreased from almost 73% to 70% since 2019, the pre-Covid period. Almost 42% of respondents prioritise hypermarkets, overtaking small stores in residential areas, which are currently the everyday choice of 36% of respondents (compared with 41% in 2019). The largest changes over the past three years impact the less popular shopping channels: markets and online stores. While the smallest proportion of the public this year since the survey began in 2017 does their everyday shopping in the market (21%, down from 28%), online stores are seeing large growth, with 9% of respondents prioritising them this year, which is almost seven percentage points higher than in 2019. 

In-person shopping: less frequent

Almost one in three (30%) respondents admitted that they have begun to shop less frequently in the past year. For comparison, in 2019, 18% of respondents visited a store less frequently, while in 2021, when pandemic restrictions caused a rapid decline in shopping frequency, this figure grew to 32%.

Stores visited less frequently for safety and money-saving reasons

Most often, the shoppers themselves made the decision to shop less frequently. More than half (59%) of Latvians are shopping less frequently to save money, while 45% do so for epidemiological safety reasons. External factors like government restrictions and changing mobility had a much lower effect on reducing shopping frequency. 

Price and product assortment are becoming more significant

In 2022, respondents named the main reasons for choosing a shopping location as proximity to home or work (61%), product assortment (45%) and lower prices (44%). High inflation and global economic events mean that price has become one of the most important store selection criteria, taking over the pre-pandemic need for a store on the way to or from work or studies.

Lasting legacy of the pandemic: stockpiles and online stores 

As part of the survey undertaken this spring, certain trends have become strengthened over the past three years. If 16% of respondents in March 2020 began stockpiling food after hearing about the new virus, two years later nearly 26% of respondents do the same. Consistent growth is also shown by the choice to shop online: if the first wave of the pandemic saw 3,5% of respondents shopping online more frequently, this figure is now almost 20%.

You will soon be able to read the full Maxima Retail Compass report on the Maxima Latvija website:

About the Maxima Retail Compass

The Maxima Retail Compass is a comprehensive industry overview in which experts from the retail chain Maxima Latvija give their opinion on the current situation in the retail industry and its future development trends. It has been issued regularly since 2017, and the latest overview is the 14th. The overview is based on Maxima Latvija data, in addition to support from the best researchers from market and public opinion research company SKDS, and data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia and other sources. The survey was undertaken by SKDS in April 2022. 1,005 residents of Latvia aged between 18 and 75 participated. The latest overview pays particular attention to changes to public shopping habits regarding product choice and purchases, as well as to changes to cooking and eating culture.