COVID-19 Fuels a 50% Increase in Omnichannel Shopping Across the U.S.

COVID-19 Fuels a 50% Increase in Omnichannel Shopping Across the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic has democratized e-commerce for all types of consumers, and over 18 million CPG buyers (and counting) in the U.S. have flooded the online space since March. Online shoppers have been mirroring their purchasing within the channel to their constantly shifting, pandemic-related needs and are becoming further entrenched in their shopping behaviors. 

But not all online engagement leads to an online purchase. For many, online channels are a key means to compare prices, research new products and find physical stores, giving way to a full-blown explosion of true omnichannel shopping. In fact, new Nielsen Connect data shows that FMCG omnichannel shopping has increased by 50% this year, with nearly half leading to e-commerce purchases. 

When examining consumers’ levels of engagement across channels, 56% of online shoppers put careful consideration into each purchase at the point of sale in September 2020, compared with 51% of brick-and-mortar shoppers. Online shoppers became more invested than their brick-and-mortar counterparts in searching for the best product to fit new needs and, as a result, increased planning efforts for online grocery purchases into the new normal. When examining planning levels for in-store food purchases, rates of purchase planning dipped below pre-COVID levels by September 2020. And as brick-and-mortar shoppers eased up on planning efforts, impulse purchasing for food and non-food products increased slightly across offline channels.


Nielsen’s Omnichannel Fundamentals Survey was fielded in September 2019 (pre-pandemic), April 2020 (lockdown) and September 2020 (new normal). Nearly 25,000 surveys were fielded per wave in Nielsen’s nationally representative Homescan panel. Insights on over 150,000 ‘category transactions’ per wave were collected for this survey. For additional information on Nielsen’s Omnichannel Shopping Fundamentals, please click here.