Early evidence suggests that the COVID-19 crisis is accelerating the rate of adoption of e-commerce with more people ordering online and using delivery services to meet their needs. The embrace of e-commerce and delivery during the crisis and recovery are likely uneven, as opportunities and barriers to accessing transportation, local retailers, online technologies, and delivery services vary across the population. This study will collect critical and time-sensitive information to evaluate the extent to which people modify their shopping behavior during the pandemic and the lasting effects of technological adoption during recovery and beyond. It will reveal important trends in consumer behaviors and gaps in access that can aid planners in preparation for ongoing recovery and future emergencies. Findings will promote the health and well-being of the community by identifying opportunities to meet household needs while minimizing risk.
Using a representative sampling frame for three states, this project will survey consumers in a repeated cross-sectional online survey over the next year to understand how their shopping strategies have changed, their use of online retailing and delivery services, and their challenges in accessing food and household goods. This project will also collaborate with delivery platform firms with the goal of being able to marry trend data and information about the demand for their services before the crisis, during it, and in the recovery phase. Together, these novel and timely data will be used to examine trends in online and in-store household provisioning, identify barriers to shopping, and develop models of technology adoption. This project is highly relevant to the Smart and Connected Communities program at NSF as it explores the impact of shocks such as pandemics on communities and strongly integrates technical and social dimensions. Research results from this proposal will help better inform communities of behavioral changes in crises and potentially develop resilient controls.