Shopping at one of the brick-and-mortars still open during the COVID-19 pandemic is anything but business as usual. Stores are launching contactless experiences, limiting the number of shoppers and even changing floorplans to help keep Canadians safe1. Consumer behaviour is adjusting to the evolving pandemic. Canadians are developing new habits — changing when they shop, how frequently they venture out, and with which payment method they use.
When did panic buying in Canada begin and when did it finally end?
Whether deemed preparation or panic buying, Canadians began flocking to grocery and drug stores on March 12, 2020, only one day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Between March 12 and March 15 Interac Debit transactions increased by 10 per cent compared to 2019 and the average Interac Debit chip & pin transaction size increased by 53 per cent at grocery and drug stores.
How long did this shopping behaviour last? Some may have noticed empty shelves for weeks. In reality, Interac Debit transactions began to level out on March 15, 2020 as Canadians started adapting to life during COVID-19.
Consumers spending more each day, shopping less often, and embracing contactless payment
While Canadians adhere to physical distancing restrictions, they are shopping less frequently but spending more in one day. Between March 13 and April 12, there has been a 13 per cent spike in the average daily Interac Debit transaction amount. As many businesses remain closed, Canadians are stocking up on the essentials at grocery and drug stores, with Interac Debit transaction volumes increasing 1.6 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
While they’re shopping, contactless payment solutions such as Interac Flash remain top of mind. Since March 13, Interac Flash as a proportion of Interac Debit transactions increased by 4 per cent and the average Interac Flash purchase size increased by 17 per cent.
Will COVID-19 impact Canadian consumer behaviour in the long term?
While their behaviour may be shifting, millions of Canadians still depend on Interac Debit at traditional point-of-sale for their essential needs every day. As COVID-19 accelerates the move to online ordering and curbside pickup, Canadian consumers and businesses are seeking secure, convenient, seamless and contactless payment solutions to transact with in the new digital economy.
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