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New shopping habits could continue after pandemic: study

A Dalhousie University study suggests more people will stick with buying groceries online after COVID-19 pandemic is over
grocery shopping cart food

We've all had to change our habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But some of those habits, specifically when it comes to purchasing groceries, could stick around even after the restrictions are lifted and grocery stores and big box retailers do away with lineups outside the building.

"Before COVID, barely two per cent of all food sold in Canada was purchased online," Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, a Professor of Food Distribution and Policy with the faculty of Management and Agriculture at Dalhousie University, tells The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS.

"Based on our survey, we could actually exceed nine per cent within the first six months after the pandemic is over."

He says more people are turning to going online to buy groceries, and the ones going into the stores seem a little more disciplined, and more aware of the food products they have at home.

"We're spending more time at home cooking, being aware of what's in our cupboards, what's in our fridge, freezer," Dr. Charlebois indicates.

"We're smarter shoppers.  We don't buy on impulse as much.  Maybe a little, but not as much because we want to get out of that grocery store as soon as possible."

He says measures in place for the pandemic, from the face masks, to security guards and plexiglass, isn't necessarily a recipe for a pleasant shopping trip.

Dr. Charlebois says says much like online grocery apps, food delivery apps could see an increase in value.

In February, he says the university released results of a survey on food delivery apps, estimating the market to be around $1.5 billion dollars a year.

"Because of COVID, by the end of this year, we are expecting that number to exceed $2.5 billion," he said.

But that doesn't mean the food service industry isn't taking their licks.

Charlebois says the industry is "being hammered right now" because of the pandemic, and could take even more damage with people possibly choosing to dine at home, out of fear for a second or third wave of the virus.

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