CivicScience data has been tracking an increase in overall online shopping since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak across the country and its resulting lockdowns. In fact, in the last week alone, 38% of adults said they are shopping online more than usual for this time of the year. While a significant amount has undoubtedly been shopping for basic necessities that can’t be purchased in a physical store, the data also point to a surge in consumers spending on clothes and other products that lean towards “non-essential” status.

Clothes and shoes are definitely essential products, but when millions of people are working from home or venturing out of the house irregularly, a wardrobe update isn’t as essential as it typically would be. The same goes for other consumer goods that are not essential to a life at home.

In the last week, 28% of U.S. adults have reported shopping for clothes, shoes, and other accessories online which is a 115% increase since the end of March. Twenty-two percent have purchased beauty products (a 69% increase), and 17% have purchased home improvement products (a 142% increase).

The data indicate people who are shopping online more than usual right now are the ones purchasing non-essential items online the most, and at a fairly high rate. Clothing, shoes, and accessories shoppers make up more than a third of heavy online shoppers.

Financial Stability

Employment status naturally impacted shopping online within the above retail categories. Those who were unemployed were significantly less likely to buy apparel, beauty products, or home project materials online, certainly a wise choice for people living off a reduced or temporarily absent salary. 

Those who said they were still working as usual (or more) but remotely were the most likely buyers of apparel and beauty products online in the past few weeks.

When it came to income, consumers earning $100K or more a year were the more likely shoppers to go for clothes and home improvement products. All income brackets appear to be placing beauty / health orders online at the same rate. 

Comfortability and Spending

A CivicScience comfortability survey showed these consumers (currently buying clothes, beauty products, or home project materials) had high instances of feeling safe enough to return to work in under a month. But when asked about going to a major event or on vacation, these consumers had much higher rates of wanting to stay in quarantine for 6 months or longer.

Discerning what draws a consumer to the internet to buy something they might not need is a complex process. Some people might anticipate getting into a regular schedule that puts them out of the house more. Others might simply be bored (or stir crazy) and therefore find it entertaining (or soothing) to fill up a digital shopping cart. In order to make the right decision for your brand, it is critical to understand what your customers are looking for; clothing, shoes, and accessories are so far the leading category.

CivicScience can definitively say online shopping is up and it likely will be for a while, but deeper insights into consumer behavior and sentiment are for our clients. Get more insights here