How has COVID-19 impacted the purchase behavior of Belgian households?

COVID-19 impacted many aspects of our lives and our purchase behavior was probably one we had to adapt the most during lockdown. But how has it evolved these past weeks following the adapted measures and the pandemic evolution in Belgium? 

A positive volume evolution (+9% vs last year) drove the FMCG & Fresh market growth in Belgium in YTD July 2020. In the midst of the crisis, Belgian shoppers took the habit to significantly increase their basket size while grocery shopping. Families consumed less out of home and people spend more time at home.  The concern about the virus and the travel limitations resulted into shoppers limiting their store visits, therefore compensating with bigger baskets in comparison to last year. The growing FMCG & Fresh turnover was, in addition to a positive volume evolution, also driven by increasing prices. In addition to a positive volume evolution, the market recorded an average price evolution of +3.3%, impacted by the government-imposed halt on promotions during the lockdown. These two effects combined led to the FMCG & Fresh turnover growing by +12.6% in YTD July 2020.

When looking at its weekly evolution, the FMCG shopping frequency of Belgian families seemed to go back to pre-COVID-19 times around W20 when the strict measures put in place back in W12 were relaxed. 

However, the resurgence of the Coronavirus in Belgium led to additional measures to limit its propagation. In the course of July, store visits were subject to rules again: mandatory face masks, limited visiting time and the obligation to shop alone became the new norm. 
The context back then led to the purchase frequency dropping again in July and August and basket value remaining higher than last year. The back to school period, one of the key periods in FMCG, seemed to have positively influenced the trend however its impact was strictly limited to a few weeks, the frequency declining again by-10.5% in W36.

COVID-19 and the several measures in place to fight the pandemic still significantly impacts the purchase behavior of Belgian shoppers. We can expect to observe strong variations in the coming weeks which will highly depend on the epidemiologic situation of our country.