As COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Rise, Grocery Shopping Behavior Dramatically Evolves

Per Catalina’s CPG Shopper Insights, People Are Cooking at Home Less, Flirting More

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, May 27, 2021 – With the COVID-19 vaccination rate of adults receiving at least one dose now topping 60 percent in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) easing mask guidelines for those who have been vaccinated, recent grocery/CPG shopping data from shopper intelligence leader Catalina underscores the increasing enthusiasm for returning to a sense of normalcy sweeping the country after 15 months of varying degrees of restrictions.

Starting in late March 2020 when sheltering at home requirements were implemented, people began making fewer shopping trips to their local grocery store, while buying more each visit, either in person or online. This trend of fewer trips yet higher dollar sales and basket sizes has continued into the Spring, particularly when compared to the same period in 2019, long before the pandemic hit.

4 weeks ending May 22, 2021 vs. Same Period, 2020 vs. Same Period, 2019
Shopping Trips +9% -9%
Dollar Sales/Store -3% +7%
Basket Sizes -12% +18%

Further examination of shopping data pulled from Catalina’s Buyer Intelligence Database, which captures same store dollar sales for the four weeks ending May 22, 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, shows recent major buying shifts across categories as a result of virtual classrooms, Zoom dating, and home workouts giving way to more face-to-face interactions. Increasingly people are beginning to gather again in backyards and parks (Dixie Cups and Chinet plastic cutlery are up 36% and 39% respectively), dine out in restaurants (leading to a decline in fresh meat and poultry sales), and head back to the office and the gym (joint relief products and sports drinks have also ticked upward, with brands like Osteo Bi-Flex up 4% and Smartwater up 64%).

In the process, people are showing a renewed interest in their personal appearance: Maybelline lipstick has surged by 66%, Native deodorant by 88% and Downy clothing wrinkle reducers by 48%. The same holds true for flirting and sex: Tic Tac breath fresheners are up 51%, while Durex condom sales have increased 32%.

On the food front, consumers appear to be balancing their desire for dining out with convenient meals at home, with refrigerated meal starters like Giovanni Rana up 105%. While restaurant sales have grown for eight consecutive weeks through the week ending May 9, 2021 according to Black Box Intelligence, same-store sales have started to soften in several food categories. This includes double-digit dips for Fresh Meat (down 18%), Fresh Poultry (down 21%); Dried Pasta (down 20%), Bulk Dried Rice (down 23%), Canned Beans (down 21%) and Cooking Oil (down 23%).

To uncover such insights, Catalina’s team of data scientists and advanced analytics professionals rely upon the company’s Buyer Intelligence Database, which captures up to three years of purchase history and more than two billion Universal Product Codes.

“There’s no doubt the pandemic continues to have a dramatic impact on shopping behavior. Being able to provide retailers, CPG marketers and agencies with insights into what people are now buying--and why--helps us collectively develop and deliver highly personalized marketing messages across multiple channels that measurably impact sales in real time,” said Catalina CMO Marta Cyhan.

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About Catalina
Catalina is a leader in shopper intelligence and highly targeted in-store, TV, radio and digital media that personalizes the shopper journey. Powered by the world’s richest real-time shopper database, Catalina helps CPG brands, retailers and agencies optimize every stage of media planning, execution and measurement to deliver $6.1 billion in consumer value annually. Catalina has no higher priority than ensuring the privacy and security of the data entrusted to the company and maintaining consumer trust. Catalina has operations in the United States, Costa Rica, Europe and Japan. To learn more, please visit or follow us on Twitter @Catalina.

Media Contact
Wally Petersen/Catalina