Americans, It Turns Out, Would Rather Visit a Store Than Buy Food Online

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Online grocery sales have surged as much as 200% this year, according to Earnest Research, part of a broader boom in home cooking now that thousands of restaurants are closed. The $840 billion grocery industry has been one of the few bright spots amid a pandemic that has infected about 1.7 million Americans, killed almost 100,000 and crushed the economy. Walmart, Amazon and startup Instacart are all reaping the rewards, and some e-commerce prognosticators say the online grocery industry has finally hit an inflection point promised for decades. But how much of that spending shift will stick is guesswork. It's difficult to predict lasting behavior changes from a fear-fueled surge -- growth peaked more than a month ago. Problems with online food shopping also persist. The operations are expensive to run, and limits on capacity and inventory abound right now with supply chains upended. The shopping experience can be clunky and confusing, especially for older consumers. And one thing the pandemic hasn't changed is that Americans still like to squeeze their cantaloupes and eyeball their rib-eyes. In the pandemic's early days it seemed as though buying online groceries would become routine -- or at least pick up a sizable number of converts. [...] But even in cities hardest hit by the pandemic, more than 7 in 10 people have continued to visit stores for groceries and other essentials, according to surveys by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. In states with more relaxed restrictions, the figure is more than 8 in 10. Over one-third of shoppers say they'll decrease their use of web groceries or stop ordering food online altogether when shelter-in-place restrictions ease in their area, according to a survey conducted for Bloomberg by Civic Science. Among those who use online grocery pickup services, only half include produce in their orders primarily due to concerns over quality, according to Field Agent, an industry researcher. Fresh food is the thing that consumers are most likely to buy in physical stores exclusively once the pandemic subsides, according to research from Evercore ISI. Items like bottled water, pet food and other bulky, non-perishable household staples have better prospects online, due to the hassle of lugging them out of stores. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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A Third of Americans Now Show Signs of Clinical Anxiety or Depression

A third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression (alternative source), Census Bureau data shows, the most definitive and alarming sign yet of the psychological toll exacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Washington Post reports: When asked questions normally used to screen patients for mental health problems, 24 percent showed clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder and 30 percent showed symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. The findings suggest a huge jump from before the pandemic. For example, on one question about depressed mood, the percentage reporting such symptoms was double that found in a 2014 national survey. How Americans responded to the question "How often have you been bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?" Someone who answered "several days" or "more than half the days" would need to show other symptoms to screen positive for clinical depression. The 2013-2014 study reflects symptoms over a two-week period, while the 2020 survey reflects symptoms over a one-week period. [...] Some groups have been hit harder than others. Rates of anxiety and depression were far higher among younger adults, women and the poor. The worse scores in young adults were especially notable, given that the virus has been more likely to kill the elderly or leave them critically ill. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-05-28 06:15:03