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Post-pandemic: Online grocery shopping, more video gaming are here to stay, experts say

Researchers are discovering that consumers will likely carry over some of their buying habits from the pandemic once the virus fear goes away.

AUSTIN, Texas — Can we predict the future from what we’ve learned from the past? 

When it comes to consumer spending during the pandemic, experts say that even if vaccines help us get back close to normal, some buying habits learned last year will stick around.

Looking at recent data compiled by companies that track what people buy, one thing is clear: Americans will likely continue ordering groceries online. Research from food delivery company Good Eggs found that 81% of consumers who ordered food online during the pandemic will continue to do so after the COVID-19 risk goes away.

Online orders for practically everything were huge in 2020, up $900 billion worldwide, according to Mastercard. And while buying online will continue to be huge, some forecasters think we may be returning to retail stores to shop in person because of “lockdown fatigue,” according to Forbes. 

Another major trend expected to continue through 2021 is the growth of video gaming. During the worst of the pandemic, the number of consumers playing in the U.S. increased 6 points to 79%. Total time spent gaming increased 26%, according to research firm NPD. 

NPD also found that the number of people age 65 and older who shopped online in 2020 saw a sharp increase. But some experts say that age group is more likely to return to retail stores to shop once the risks of COVID-19 diminish.

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