As the pandemic caused widespread shutdowns, consumers who traditionally preferred brick-and-mortar retail shifted at least some of their spending to digital channels.
When transacting purchases, many boomers have adopted ecommerce—though it’s yet another area where they lag behind younger adults. We estimate that 62.1% of boomers in the US will be digital buyers this year, well short of the percentages of Gen Xers and millennials.
The pandemic has given impetus to boomers’ usage of digital options for shopping, including for groceries. “Prior to the pandemic, boomers were least likely to give up their familiar grocery shopping habits,” said Jana Davis, director of research at Acosta Sales & Marketing, who was interviewed for our recent report, “Better Be Nice to the Boomers.”
Though a majority of boomers buy online, it has not been their first choice of retail venue in normal times. TD Bank polling from September and October 2019 found 87% of boomers saying they preferred to shop in physical stores. Asked in a December 2019 Shopkick survey to say where they planned to do the majority of their 2020 shopping, 67% of boomers cited physical stores—as did 59% of Gen Xers and 57% of millennials.
But again, the pandemic quickly upended many shopping habits. Polling by retail predictive analytics company First Insight found a steep rise between late February and mid-March in the proportion of boomers saying they had shifted buying to online, from 8% in the earlier survey to 34% in the later one.