Impact of Covid-19 on Shopping Behaviour in Klang Valley

est. < 1 min read

With the recent spike in confirmed Covid-19 cases to 553 in Malaysia, public concern has heightened, affecting our shopping behavior and lifestyle in various ways.

Digital marketing agency Garganto reached out to us to conduct a quick survey to better understand the impact. In the survey conducted by Stratos Consulting Group between 14 March and 16 March 2020 in the Klang Valley, it was found that a substantial 15% of respondents were buying more goods online now compared to before the onset of Covid-19.

Another 17% said although they were not shopping more online yet, they were planning to do so.

Are you buying more goods online due to the Covid-19 outbreak?

What goods are you buying more online?

Among the 15% who were shopping more online now –

  • The most popular goods purchased were Household Goods and Toiletries (eg. cleaners, toilet paper, soaps etc.), mentioned by more than half (57%). This is spurred on by the new normal of more frequent hand washes and sanitization. Adding to that, experts explained that the phenomenon of panic buying is likely due to the outcome of anxious consumers trying to gain control and ownership in a perceived helpless and uncertain situation.
  • This was followed by online shopping of pharmaceutical and health care products, mentioned by about half (52%). These comprise medicines, health supplements, etc. Apart from cleaning and sanitizing, many would have stepped up efforts to boost their health and immunity to prevent infections. 
  • Interestingly, about half (52%) also mentioned that they were shopping for more fashion, footwear and accessories online, coinciding with the decline in physical visits to shopping malls.
  • Nearly half (48%) shopped more online for dry groceries, comprising powdered drinks, canned food, instant noodles, biscuits, etc. This is unsurprising, given these uncertain times where some are preparing for potential scenarios involving self-quarantine, less frequent shopping trips, work / study from home, stock shortages, etc. 
  • Less than half (44%) said they were shopping for more online delivery meals. This is also a significant increase, spurred by the social distancing that is being encouraged as a preventive measure against the spread of the disease. 
  • About a third (35%) said they were shopping for more cosmetics and beauty products online. Again, this coincides with the decline in visits to malls and physical outlets.

Meanwhile, a whopping 69% of all respondents said they were visiting shopping malls less often than before, whilst another 8% said they were planning to visit less often. Contributing to these were recent news about infected individuals having visited a few malls.

Are you visiting shopping malls less often due to the Covid-19 outbreak?

A high 61% also said they were eating out less often than before, whilst another 11% said they plan to lessen their frequency. This is significant, given Malaysia’s love for eating out and hanging out. In China where city lock-downs were prevalent, a newfound love for home cooking seemed to have evolved. Might we see the same in Malaysia?

Are you eating out less often due to the Covid-19 outbreak?

Meanwhile, 64% of all respondents mentioned that they were watching more movies at home, rather than at cinemas. Just two days ago, MBO Cinemas announced that it was introducing ‘social distance seating’ by adding gaps between seats, and putting hand sanitisers at usher points. 

51% also said they were visiting less crowded malls more than before. In this respect, we expect less crowded, smaller, neighbourhood malls to be less impacted in terms of decline in shopper traffic.

Interestingly, 14% also mentioned they were visiting street shops more often, rather than malls.

Apart from this, 27% were exercising more at home rather than going to the gym.

16% were visiting reflexology, massage and beauty salon outlets less often than before.

8% were shopping more often with live stream shopping.

The impact of Covid-19 on shopping behavior

Implications on the Retail Sector

The increase in online shopping spells opportunities for those retailers who have well defined online marketing and distribution presence and channels. It is hoped that the increase in online sales will help offset the decline in offline channels, in the retail sector.  

AEON Malaysia has already reported that it is looking for growth opportunities in its home delivery business, which currently makes up a small percentage of its total sales. Their daily home delivery business sales had increased by about 40% in the past 2 to 3 months. Their hardline and fashion items saw a slight dip in sales, which was mitigated by the groceries and supermarket businesses. It also saw a hike in grocery sales in early February in the southern region stores, particularly from Singaporean customers. (Bernama, March 12, 2020).

Overall, supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmaceutical businesses look set to benefit, as consumers stock up groceries, household essentials and drugs, and cook more at home.

On the other hand, shopping malls, restaurants, gyms, reflexology / massage outlets and beauty salons appear to bear the brunt of the virus.

Strategies for these retailers to encourage more physical visits would entail stringent precautionary measures as well as promotional programmes.

For eg. malls have already undertaken precautionary measures to reduce chances for virus transmission through frequent cleaning and sanitizing of common areas and installing hand sanitisers at central locations. Some like Sunway Malls have begun running more aggressive marketing campaigns to drive sales, benefiting both retailers and consumers.

Due to uncertainty over when the Covid-19 outbreak will be contained in Malaysia, consumers are expected to remain cautious, with shifts to online shopping expected to increase further.

Digital marketing strategies would be apt in such an environment. Once again, we thank our friends at Garganto for reaching out to work together on this survey.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!