Consumer Insights

What Sticks? Five Data-Driven Behaviors That Will Define America’s Reopening

Pandemic aside, business in the digital era is still data driven.

Guesswork about the consumer and his or her behavior is not necessary or advisable. Fortunately, PYMNTS has populated the current landscape with trackers, playbooks and reports to inform data-driven decisioning, many of which answer the critical question: What are the consumer behaviors that will stick?

The biggest behavior that will stick is the digital shift. Consumers are going online for commerce consistently, and they will not come back to previous, pre-pandemic behaviors. There are nuanced reasons for that shift.

Here are five consumer behaviors that will stick, backed by PYMNTS data.

Fear: Consumers are scared, and that fear is driving them to shop for retail goods online. The PYMNTS COVID-19 tracker work, especially the most recent version called The Great Reopening: Tracking Digital's Quantum Leap, shows that 32.8 percent of consumers are shopping for retail goods just as often as they did before the pandemic, but they have shifted that behavior online. Compare that 32.8 percent number to 12.8 percent of consumers grocery shopping online and 16.1 percent who order from restaurants online. Why? Our research shows that 48.3 percent of consumers who will stay with digital channels to manage their post-pandemic lives fear they might die from COVID-19. This compares to 46.5 percent of those who plan to either partially or totally revert to their pre-pandemic routines who say the same.

Sticking With Big Retail: Amazon and Walmart will continue to succeed in their quests to get every penny of the American consumer’s paycheck. The past week has only reinforced that. As quoted in the PYMNTS Whole Paycheck Tracker, Walmart is ready to keep gaining share online, even though it has shuttered its high-profile 2016 acquisition of Walmart’s earnings announcement last week showed that its same-store sales increased 10 percent, and online sales soared more than 74 percent year on year.

Amazon is now moving past the phase where its orders are dominated by essential goods and medical supplies. The company announced that it would delay its annual Prime Day from its regular July date to September. The two-day shopping event will feature sales on a wide range of merchandise. It remains to be seen whether Amazon will position itself to be an early Black Friday for the holiday season.

Subscription Options: Welcome to the pause option. With the pandemic wreaking havoc on consumer stability, this and other events have impacted consumers’ ability or desire to keep paying for subscription services. The PYMNTS Consumer Subscription Retail Services Report, published after the pandemic started, covers the bane of existence for subscription retail: cancellations and subscriber churn. With 14.6 percent of subscribers considering canceling because they can no longer afford their subscription, retailers need an option. That option is the pause feature, which 37.1 percent of customers would like to use in the education and training space. The report found that 9.5 million of the 167 million total U.S. subscription service consumers would not cancel if that pause feature was available.

Contactless Restaurants: Along with the travel business, restaurants have arguably been the hardest hit by the pandemic. The pressure has accelerated adoption of critical solutions, such as allowing customers to pay via contactless EMV cards and accepting digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay for in-store and online transactions. The PYMNTS Order-To-Eat Tracker shows that these behaviors and attitudes will stay post-pandemic. The evidence? A total of 97 percent of all restaurants closed at least temporarily during the pandemic, and as of April 2, 92 percent of all orders were off-premise. The PYMNTS Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker also reinforces the contactless restaurant behavior. It showed that 56 percent of consumers ages 21 to 38 have ordered food via mobile app in the past year and increased usage during the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a doubling in the amount of [app] users during this time,” Michael Mohammed, CEO of fast casual Mexican chain Chronic Tacos, told PYMNTS in a recent interview. “Every restaurant that is surviving through this is seeing this change in customer behavior. We know that [dine-in] customers will come back, but there has been a shift in how people are approaching [quick-service restaurants (QSRs)].”

Experience-Driven Consumers: The connected consumer and the experience-driven consumer are one and the same. The PYMNTS Commerce Connected Playbook: Retail Innovation Edition shows that 39 percent of all consumers say experience is one of their top three priorities, and 68 percent of retailers say they will invest in experiential retail for 2020. Put them together and the experience is imperative. According to Deanna Moreno Hernandez, mobile marketing senior manager at hardware retailer Ace Hardware, “We are in the process of enhancing our data capabilities to see a more holistic view of our consumers and their shopping journeys to better serve their needs [on] whichever channels they prefer to [use]. We lean on our IT team to help develop in-house technologies to serve our retailers so they can provide memorable experiences in-store.”



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.