Lockdown has changed the way we shop, report finds

KGAUGELO MASWENENG

South Africans are in the main still shopping during the day, showing persistent change in retail behaviour even though lockdown regulations have been relaxed.

Before lockdown, shopping was typically done in the evening.

This is according to a recent report by vehicle recovery and fleet management company, Netstar.

For instance, the time of day at which drivers choose to do their shopping has shifted towards noon hours.

“Before the lockdown, most shopping was done during the evening, when people were returning from work. With more remote work, and fewer commutes, it appears that shopping is becoming the focal point of the day for some people, instead of an errand to be squeezed in after work.

“Most shopping trips were concentrated into the midday periods during Level 4 of the lockdown. However, this trend has persisted into Level 3, despite curfews being lifted and restrictions on businesses being lifted,” says the report.

In Gauteng, some grocery chains saw relatively constant shopper volumes through the day, and then sharp reductions after 4pm. Others saw their busiest times between 8am and 10am. In the Western Cape, most grocery shopping happened between 10am and noon, with a similar steep drop-off after 4pm.

Pierre Bruwer, Netstar MD, said they have been able to monitor retail trends throughout the lockdown with the use of the telematics technology it uses to track client vehicles.

“Our data shows that people are shopping earlier in the day, and doing it closer to home than they did before the lockdown. This could be one example of how the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown changes consumer behaviour in the long-term.” Bruwer said.

With the activation of the mandatory Level 5 lockdown on March 27, its metrics showed an immediate, significant level of compliance across all provinces in SA. Retail activity shifted to shopping centres near residential areas, instead of destination shopping districts and CBDs.

“Smaller-format stores appear to have become busier, perhaps due to shoppers avoiding crowds at large stores due to concerns about the pandemic. It may also be a sign of caution and restraint due to personal economic concerns,” Bruwer added.

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