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Survey suggests COVID-19 has Canadians worried about shopping at grocery stores


March 17, 2020, Halifax, N.S. – In partnership with Angus Reid, Dalhousie University has released results of a cross-Canada survey on how Canadians are coping with the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak.

Based on results, 71 per cent are generally concerned about the outbreak, while seven per cent expressed that they were not sure. Quebecers are most concerned about the outbreak, at 79 per cent. Only 40 per cent of consumers in Saskatchewan are generally concerned about the outbreak.

Canadians were also asked if they had made any food provisions as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. A total of 41 per cent of Canadians declared that they had made provisions as a result of the outbreak. This means that 59 per cent of Canadians have not bought anything since the start of the outbreak.

Manitoba is where the greatest number of consumers have bought provisions, at 52 per cent. Based on the survey results, only 31 per cent of Quebecers bought provisions as a result of the outbreak.

Some food categories were more popular than others. Of Canadians who bought provisions, 30 per cent purchased dry and canned goods, followed by “other non-food items like sanitary products, tissues, toilet paper,” at 24 per cent. Frozen foods were also at 24 per cent. Finally, 15 per cent of Canadians who bought provisions purchased either comfort foods and/or pet food.

The Atlantic Region saw the highest rate of consumers buying “other non-food items like sanitary products, tissues, toilet paper,” at 33 per cent.

The survey also asked if Canadians had provisions before the outbreak. A total of 63 per cent of Canadians did say that they already had provisions at home. The highest rate was in Manitoba at 68 per cent, and the lowest in Ontario at 61 per cent.

Canadians were asked if they were concerned about potential health risks when going to a grocery store. A total of 65 per cent of Canadians are concerned about risks at the grocery store. The most concerned were in Ontario, at 73 per cent, whereas 44 per cent of people in Saskatchewan claimed they were concerned, the lowest rate in the country.

A total of 57 per cent of Canadians who are concerned are still buying groceries for themselves, whereas five per cent have asked someone else to go to the grocery store for them since the outbreak started. In addition, only three per cent of Canadians have opted to buy groceries online since the beginning of the outbreak due to their concerns.

And finally, Canadians were asked about risks in food service. Surprisingly, only 26 per cent of Canadians stated that they were concerned about going to a restaurant since the outbreak started, which is significantly lower than the number of Canadians concerned about the grocery store.

Of those concerned, while a total of 22 per cent are simply avoiding restaurants, four per cent of Canadians are opting to use food delivery apps more often since the beginning of the outbreak. Interestingly, 25 per cent of Canadians not concerned haven’t changed anything while 49 per cent of Canadians who are not concerned are still visiting restaurants but are more careful about where they are going.

“In these uncertain times, results are suggesting that grocery stores are a significant source of risk for many Canadians, compared to food service. Crowds and lineups in grocery stores may have contributed to this fear,” Angus Reid and Dalhousie University stated in a press release.

“Canadian may not fear restaurants as much but are told to stay away by most public health officials. Given that almost three out of four Canadians are concerned about the outbreak, these results are not surprising.”

A total of 1,014 Canadians were surveyed in March 2020. The survey carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.



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