The coronavirus pandemic changes shopping habits in the Bay Area – ABOUT MAG 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has caused drastic changes in where Bay Area consumers spend their money.

It is not surprising that food delivery services – groceries, prepared meals and DIY kits – have increased in volume once everyone is sheltered at home. What is surprising is how much a player has mastered growth and market share in each of these categories.

On the other hand, Uber and Lyft saw usage in free fall, with local tour sales down about 90% compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, the main commodity stores, Amazon and Costco, have also seen increasing volumes – but not necessarily when you would think.

To deepen spending, The Chronicle analyzed data from Second measure, a San Francisco company that analyzes billions of anonymous credit card purchases to track consumer behavior and sales at individual merchants. We examined weekly spending in six categories strongly impacted by the pandemic and shelter order at the site.

The graphs show data for the metropolitan region of San Francisco, San Francisco counties, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin. National data from the Second Measure showed similar trends. Data is indexed to be equal to 100 in an entire category by January 2018.

Supermarket delivery: Instacart made an impressive recovery, with its sales volume on the San Francisco metro at the end of March about five times what it was in mid-February. Meanwhile, Amazon Fresh, which includes deliveries from Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh (Amazon Prime’s grocery delivery service), was left behind.

Amazon’s problems were highlighted during the pandemic, when it limited deliveries from Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh to existing customers. Amazon said social detachment and other security measures combined with unprecedented demand were factors. The company said it is hiring and adjusting operations to increase capacity and will add new grocery delivery customers from a waiting list.

“Instacart had better delivery speeds – waiting times and the ability to get a seat are better than some other players,” said Sucharita Kodali, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, speaking on the national scene. Still, Instacart’s one-hour, same-day delivery disappeared in the flood, with customers on social media complaining about irregular availability.

Instacart said it will hire 250,000 full-service buyers – independent contractors who select and deliver groceries – to try to regain speed on the same day. There are more than 300,000 added last month, which has raised its freelance workforce to 500,000.

Meal delivery: DoorDash dominates this category, both nationally (44% of the market on March 30) and even more locally (62%).

For all players, the delivery of the restaurant was flat until mid-March, but it took off as soon as the shelter was implanted. DoorDash’s sales in San Francisco are now 120% of what they were a year ago, while Uber Eats’ sales increased 49%. GrubHub saw an increase of 22% over the previous year, while the increase in Postmates was 10% muted.

Average spending per customer also increased by about 26% at DoorDash, 21% at Grubhub, 23% at Postmates and 35% at UberEats.


Meal kits: Combining cooking and eating, two favorite shelter activities on site, the meal kits are having a moment. HelloFresh is the highlight, with 39% of the local market and 56% across the country on March 30.

The Berlin company said it is the largest meal kit company in the world and has been number 1 for several years in several European countries and the USA.

HelloFresh said it was well prepared for increased demand. “We are working 24 hours to deliver our boxes and collaborating with our network of suppliers and partners to ensure that we continue to deliver fresh and reliable meals to our customers,” he said.

Greeting tour: The number of passengers from Uber and Lyft decreased in the first two weeks of March, when people started to crouch, and then plunged dramatically from the week of March 16, when most of the bay area implemented mandatory shelters. Its sales here fell 90% compared to the same period last year. Across the country, they fell about 85% on Uber and 89% on Lyft.

Drivers say that income plummeted also. Both companies are trying to help drivers find other opportunities with expanding delivery services and subsidizing some pandemic relief-related travel and deliveries to offer some earning opportunities.

A twist: the few remaining customers were still spending about $ 40 a week each, close to typical pre-pandemic averages. This may be because essential workers are relying on hitchhiking instead of risking public transport.

Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Amazon.com: Hidden at home, consumers bought everything from staples, toilet paper to toys and puzzles online to keep themselves and their children busy. For the world’s leading online retailer, that should have been great news.

“Amazon received a winning lottery ticket,” said Kodali.

However, it seems that Amazon struggled. The Seattle company said it is hiring 175,000 workers and prioritizing essential items, so shipments of many other items have been delayed significantly.

Amazon’s sales volume during the weeks of March 16, 23 and 30 was far below what was dealt with in the first three weeks of December 2019. The weeks of March together totaled 23.5% less than the three weeks of vacation .

“It’s very strange,” said Kodali. “If they weren’t close to the volume of holidays, why were they declining transactions?”

Amazon said that social detachment, extensive cleansing and support for employees who chose not to work compared to previous periods. He said he is continually improving logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing and other processes. The company is investing $ 500 million in a temporary increase of $ 2 / hour for hourly workers in the US, Europe and Canada.

“We will continue to make regular and critical updates to our processes to ensure that we are keeping our employees safe and providing a vital service to people everywhere,” Amazon said in a statement. “We know that people are depending on us.”

Costco: People came to Costco to buy essential items in bulk. But they did this before the shelter was implemented. Costco’s local sales for the week of March 30 were slightly below normal.

“Costco’s figures were about inventory and panic buying,” said Kodali. “We saw the same trend reflected in pharmacies. After storing, you don’t need any more stuff, so it is much smoother in subsequent weeks. “

Carolyn Said is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. The e-mail: csaid@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @csaid


Paula Fonseca