As the pandemic is improving in the United States thanks to three COVID-19 vaccinations, people are slowly but surely making their way back to regular activities that were paused during the height of the pandemic.

One activity that was not necessarily paused by mandate –but by individual comfort level and convenience– was in-store shopping. Though retailers had limits on customers and safety precautions in place, most remained open, and many consumers still went out. However, a large portion of Americans shifted their non-grocery shopping online. 

As CivicScience data has shown throughout the pandemic, more Americans reported they were shopping online for non-grocery items much more frequently than they usually did for the time of year.

This number is starting to shift in a big way, however. Not only has the percentage of the adult population who report they are shopping online more than they usually do gone down to near pre-pandemic levels, but more than three-quarters of the population report being comfortable with shopping in stores now or in the next couple of weeks – a figure that has taken off as of the most recent two months or so.

With that is another encouraging trend line for brick-and-mortar retailers that will likely be reflected in upcoming in-store earnings reports: nearly half of the adult population surveyed says they are shopping in stores the same amount as they typically would this time of year.

In separate surveys to gauge how people think they will or won’t change their post-pandemic shopping habits, it’s interesting to see that online shopping level will stay within peak pandemic levels for 61% of Americans. Plus, about the same percentage of people say they’ll shop in stores just as much as they did at the height of the pandemic even as conditions subside:

The same trend line is shown though: 25% say they will go back to shopping in stores more often than they did during the height of the pandemic.

Let’s break down this group. Who is more likely to venture back to stores at a more frequent cadence in this semi-post-pandemic life?

  • Women are more keen than men are to get back to stores
  • Higher income bracket households
  • New parents (of children age 0-2) are more likely than other parents to want to shop in physical stores

So, to answer the question: Will Online Pandemic Shopping Stick? Let’s examine a few points about who plans to shop online just as much as they did (or more) when the pandemic was at its worst.

  • Remote workers
  • People approaching retirement or current retirees (age 55+)
  • Men and women are just as likely to continue their COVID online shopping habit
  • People who know someone who got COVID-19 / got it themselves

In-Store Shopping By Retailer

Target has a leg up: Target favorables are much more likely than Walmart favorables to say they will shop in store more often than they did in months past. However, it appears that Walmart fans may have never decreased the amount of in-store shopping they did, as they are more likely to say they will shop in stores just as much.

Online Shopping by Retailer

Seventy-four percent of favorables will shop online just as much or more than they did during the height of the pandemic.

So, will online shopping stick, or what? It appears that among many segments that latched onto online ordering during the pandemic, there are no plans to stop the convenient habit. 

But it’s also evident that people miss the in-store shopping experience and will start going back in droves, if they have not already.

Seems like a win-win.