May 04, 2020
By the Numbers: Canadians buying more food, spending more on groceries during COVID-19

A new Angus Reid survey on Canadian attitudes and behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic finds that the coronavirus has dramatically changed grocery shopping habits in Canada, with families saying they are buying more food and spending more on groceries than is normally the case.

Entitled “COVID-19: Weekly Monitoring of Canadian Perceptions & Behaviour – Wave 7,” the Angus Reid Institute survey interviewed Canadian adults across the country between April 27 to 28, asking people how and whether their perceptions and behaviours have changed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

With respect to grocery shopping habits amid the pandemic, 64 percent of Canadians say they are comfortable with “cautiously” going to the grocery store, while 26 percent are “fine” with grocery shopping in-store.

In a potential sign that consumers are starting to feel safer at stores after UFCW Canada and its Local Unions pushed for plexiglass installations, increased physical distancing, and other enhanced safety measures, only 10 percent of Canadians claim they are avoiding grocery stores. This is a drop of 4 percent from the Institute’s Wave 5 survey, which found that 14 percent of respondents were avoiding stores.

Meanwhile, 46 percent of shoppers say they are making more meals at home, and 39 percent are using their downtime to try new recipes.

At the grocery store, 68 percent of Canadians claim they are “buying more food” in order to make fewer trips to the store, and 43 percent are “buying extra food for the longer term.” 24 percent say they are purchasing more hygiene products – like hand sanitizer and toilet paper – as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while 22 percent of shoppers claim they are buying healthier food to boost their immunity.

Interestingly, only 15 percent of Canadians say they have been getting someone else to do their grocery shopping for them – a decline of 7 percent from the Wave 5 survey. This may also be an indication that consumers are beginning to feel more comfortable shopping in-store following the implementation of new safety measures for workers and customers.

The survey sample was balanced and weighted based on age, gender, and province according to the latest Census data, and the results are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times of out 20. To see the full survey, click here.