Understanding the COVID-19 Effect on Online Shopping Behavior

COVID-19 Online Shopping BehaviorThese past several months have truly been challenging for most people. The global pandemic has influenced every aspect of our personal lives, as well as businesses and economy all over the world. Under unfortunate circumstances, new trends and online shopping behavior habits have been created. 

Due to movement restrictions, there were obstacles in getting even essential products such as groceries and hygiene products. Especially regarding the psychological factor of the possibility of being infected when in-store shopping.

For this, and many other reasons, most people and companies have shifted to an online option when it comes to shopping. We are yet to see if the trend is here to stay.

COVID-19 online shopping behavior: priorities

Living in constant uncertainty and being surrounded by dreadful and morbid data has caused people to prioritize and evaluating their choices when it comes to shopping. Several trends have naturally developed. Above all, we are talking about a sudden rise in categories such as essential groceries and household products, as well as health and sanitary ones in e-commerce.

Many businesses have just introduced the option of online orders and deliveries in order to stay relevant and viable, and are planning to continue after the pandemic is over. It all comes down to not exposing ourselves to a deadly virus, and simply surviving the worst periods of the pandemic. 

Changes in consumer mindsets have therefore resulted in market changes reflecting them. In most countries, there were complete lockdowns lasting up to five days, so the need for stocking up on the essentials emerged.

Planning in Advance

 A large percentage of the population has started planning in advance and buying groceries and common shelf-stable items in bulk. It is true that the price is always lower when shopping in larger quantities, but this was definitely not the main reason in this situation. It was rather the terrifying thought your family might run out of a necessary item in a context where you would be helpless. 

Furthermore, safety measures required certain items for when we were able to go outside, such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. Even though our lives were on pause, most of us didn’t spend the whole period in the safety of our homes. And most of the mentioned items you could find regarding personal safety gear are disposable.

Demand for such items has never been higher in recent history. Companies which offered those, as well as disinfection, preventative health, wellness and pharmaceutical products were thriving on orders.    


On the other hand, numerous categories have been shifted into the notion of luxury and were negatively affected as a result. Starting with everything related to travel and entertainment industries, and including fashion and accessories ones. This is all quite understandable, considering the fact many people have lost their jobs and financial stability in the first quarter of the year. 

When we are thinking of purely surviving, it is hard to even contemplate spending money on luxury items. The only aspect of entertainment which had an increase during the pandemic is online subscriptions to streaming services, such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. 


Another important issue has impacted this heavy decline, and it is related to most of these businesses relying on importing goods from Asia. With the lockdown of borders, the mission became impossible. But there is some relatively good news for the entrepreneurs, as the situation is slowly progressing to something closer to normal. 

At least when it comes to the land down under, companies such as General Carrying are back in business and can help you with all your import and export needs, regardless of which items your company offers. This can largely influence the stabilization of local markets and the economy in general.        

Demographic differences in responses

Different groups have had different responses to the crisis, which has resulted in appropriate patterns in their behaviour. Variables such as gender and age turned out to be the most distinctive ones. 

Numerous surveys throughout the world state that men were avoiding in-store shopping more than women, and rather opted for online purchases. The same goes for buying in bulk.

Furthermore, online shopping behavior figures concerning the amount of money being spent are showing men were also trying to save more money. It allowed the adjusting of their purchase needs in accordance with the pandemic.

Age differences

Another thing that happened is a generational gap between baby boomers and generation X, in comparison to millennials and generation Z. The difference in opinions shows that Z gen and millennials have higher concerns regarding the future: therefore, they were spending less in general, especially on experiences.

This can be explained by older groups having more support from their governments, mostly because they were facing a larger risk from the virus. 

On the other hand, baby boomers are the group with the largest percentage in terms of bulk buying and hoarding supplies in both in-store shopping and online shopping behavior. Challenges for younger groups are yet to come, as they will be the primary group that will have to live with and be affected by the economic and financial consequences in times to come. 


It is an understatement to say the whole experience has been and still is scary. And that fear is the primary reason for all the changes we’ve mentioned in the article. Our perspective had to change considering that contact with every person was a potential threat. 

The appropriate response of most people was social distancing and contact only on virtual platforms. There has probably never been a greater and more sudden rise in online shopping behavior in such a short period.

It is debatable whether this new online shopping behavior trend is going to stay the same when the pandemic is over. However, many people have said they wish to continue getting deliveries for numerous items.