How COVID Will Change Consumer Behavior
COVID-19 Resources

13 Retail Experts Share Their Predictions For How COVID Will Change Consumer Behavior

Jun 05, 2020

This article is part of Raydiant’s Re-opening of Brick and Mortar series which aims to provide insights, ideas, and resources to business owners and executives in the retail industry to get a grasp on how consumer behavior is changing in the current pandemic context and how it could impact their businesses.

We’ve collaborated with different executives, business owners, and thought leaders to crowdsource insights and expertise that will ensure this content is timely, and helpful as possible.

Cami Zimmer, Chief Business Officer at Glympse

Cami ZimmerThe COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumers’ relationships with their connected devices, making them more reliant on their mobile phones, laptops and desktop computers to help them remotely shop and pay for their purchases. 

It’s a true shift – quickly – from brick and mortar to digital commerce. The result? A considerable uptick in the share of consumers who use digital channels to complete their purchases. The number of orders placed online and picked up at stores by customers surged 208% between April 1 and April 20 compared with a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics. Online sales in the U.S. jumped 49% from March 12 to April 11, compared with a baseline from March 1 to March 11.

Anne Mezzenga, CEO and Co-founder of Omni Talk and Third Haus

Anne MezzengaConsumers will have a heightened sense of loyalty in the long term. They’ll remember the retailers who provided the best experiences during these times, those who kept food in their stores, kept products arriving on their doorsteps, and continue to patronize those places.

I also believe that there are some habits that have been formed during this time, like increased confidence in online ordering, that will continue to accelerate. 

Debbie Hauss, Executive Director of Content, Retail TouchPoints

Debbie HaussIn lots of ways. I just don’t see us returning to the previous “normal” any time soon. Visiting stores will be a much more considered decision, with a specific purpose in mind, beyond just a reason to get out of the house. Retailers should be thinking about making the store experience even more compelling and as contactless as possible. 

Regarding purchase behavior, consumers with disposable income will be diverting money they may have spent on travel and entertainment to luxury items they may not have purchased otherwise. Brands should work on personalization marketing efforts to target those potential buyers.

Sanford Stein, Founder of Retail Speak 

Sanford SteinThis has become a transformative experience for many millions of Americans, one that has affected every aspect of their lives. Many people will come out of this feeling that they want more in their lives (family, self-determination, wellbeing) and need less (things). Many will wish to continue working from home, and employers will accommodate them based on a rise of employee efficiency (during the shelter-at-home) and corresponding opportunities for corporate and environmental conservation. This is likely to further impact many industries, among them, fashion, air travel, and auto sales negatively. Conversely, it will likely benefit home improvement and certain leisure industries that cater to the family. It’s also likely to support culinary interests of many kinds.

Sarah Assous, CMO of Zoovu

Sarah AssousIf you look at the first few weeks of lockdown, you see consumers adapted their behavior very quickly. By the end of March, 90% of consumers altered their shopping habits to be digital-first reliant and turned to a variety of channels and methods of buying online to fulfill their purchasing needs. When their go-to retailers, like Amazon or Walmart, did not have products they needed, they sought second-tier retailers or brand manufacturers owned websites to buy. The lasting impression for consumers is: I can rely on multiple retailers and brands to ensure I find what I need, and the vast majority of them will remember those experiences post-pandemic and continue to buy from them. 

Charu Thomas, Founder at Oculogx

Charu ThomasDiscretionary spending already dropped drastically, and I foresee a difficult time ahead for D2C brands.

Grocery delivery companies have seen incredible growth in operation, and that trend will continue post-pandemic as these services offer time savings and convenience. 


Neil Saunders, Managing Director, Retail at Global Data

Neil SaundersOnce the crisis is over, a lot of consumers will revert to previous behaviors; not all short-term shifts will stick.

However, some might, and these include: more value conscious consumers questioning purchases more deeply; higher levels of online and multichannel shopping; greater use of curbside collection; more attention paid to hygiene and cleanliness in stores; a more ethically and socially aware consumer; and, a greater appreciation for physical shops as a place to connect socially, relax and engage. 

Imogen Wethered, CEO and founder of Qudini

Imogen WetheredCustomers are significantly reducing their time in store as much as possible, so brands wanting to build more personalized relationships should take their one-to-one services and events online to engage with customers. Based on younger demographic interest in video services, it’s likely that this interest extends beyond the Coronavirus outbreak – the present day could act as a catalyst for ongoing virtualized brand interactions in the future.

There’s also a strong demand for BOPIS services, suggesting that stores will serve more as contactless fulfillment hubs for the foreseeable future. Therefore, retailers should offer store entrance and curbside pick-up that enables customers to have an efficient and contactless pick-up experience.

Joshua Williams, founding president of Fashion Consort and assistant professor of fashion management, Parsons School of Design

Joshua WilliamsConsumers will become more aware of what they are buying, particularly from a supply chain perspective.

They will demand transparency from brands, as a way to ensure their own individual safety.

Consumers will also rely heavily on brands they feel they can trust at all levels. Retailers are going to have to work hard to build that trust.

Lynn Xu, Chief of Retail Solution, Clobotics

Lynn XuHygiene categories are and will continue benefiting post COVID-19. More people may join the preppers thus stocking more products whenever there is a deal.

Consumers will go to extremes – spending more on the basics or indulging more when they can. Mid-tier products may suffer more and see tougher recovery.

Julie Bula, CFO and Co-Founder at Sweft LLC

Julie BulaCOVID-19 has accelerated the shift of shopping to online as the primary channel for consumers to buy both essential and non-essential goods. Hurdles that previously existed to consumer comfort with buying these goods remotely, including online payment processing and quality of product and delivery for perishable goods, were overcome during the pandemic out of necessity. The ease of having deliveries for literally anything and everything directly to your door will prove to be something consumers will continue to use regularly to make their lives easier as they resume their normal activities with many time demands from extracurricular activities.

Victoria Peppiatt, co-founder and COO of Phrasee

Victoria PeppiattThe way brands behave now, and in the near future, will determine the way consumers view them for the long-term. Customers are likely to respond negatively to brands that are insensitive to their concerns. Ultimately, messaging needs to be authentic to maintain customer-brand relationships now and to create long-term brand loyalty.


Marci Weisler, Chief Commercial Officer at Vengo

Marci WeislerOver the long term, consumers want to get out and be social, but they’ve also realized what they can accomplish at home through media, e-commerce, apps and other digital channels. There will need to be real value to going to the store.  And there’s value in the store coming to the consumer, digitally and through unattended retail channels that are strategically placed where people go throughout their day–she can buy headphones at the gym when she’s at the gym.  Contactless payments will also continue to grow in adoption.


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