As China’s economy re-opens, there are signs that purchasing behaviours which changed during the coronavirus pandemic will continue post-lockdown as consumers are keen to carry on with the convenience and increased safety of contactless online shopping.

Online shopping, particularly for necessities like food and medication, proved a lifeline for many in China during the coronavirus pandemic and that isn’t about to change as businesses reopen.

Data from the State Post Bureau reveals that the total number of domestic courier packages delivered during April was up 27% to 625 million, Shanghai Daily reports. The rise in deliveries comes despite most businesses reopening.

And a recent Nielsen survey found 67% of consumers in China said they had bought daily necessities and fresh foods more than twice a week during the pandemic, and 89% said they would be more willing to buy these online in the future.

Additionally, 24% said they would order takeaways as much or even a little more often after the pandemic, while 37% said they would order home food deliveries much or a little more often.

“The COVID-19 epidemic is changing purchasing behaviour and the channels used to shop,” said Justin Sargent, president of Nielsen China.

“For many, old habits like eating out may be replaced by new habits due to an altered environment where people reassess where they’re eating.”

For both retailers and customers, online sales are becoming more of a necessity than an option, Shanghai Daily notes. Businesses are expanding their online offerings and improving the integration of multichannel shopping.

Alibaba has said it aims to boost its delivery network and “smart” facilities due to the huge spike in demand for contactless deliveries during the lockdown. In Q1, the e-commerce giant said its grocery platform Freshippo and its online supermarket service Taoxianda had experienced double the demand from a year earlier.

Across the country, Alibaba-backed and Tencent-backed Meituan Dianping are planning a big increase in the number of food lockers in tier-one cities. The lockers allow contactless delivery of food orders.

Meanwhile, analysis from research and insights agency Kantar reveals the ground FMCG brands have to make up post-lockdown.

Forecasting analysis carried out by the Expert Solutions team at Kantar Worldpanel shows that, had there been no Covid-19 crisis during the 17 weeks to 17th April, the FMCG market would have been expected to have grown at a rate of 5.5% in China. Instead, the market shrank by -3.9%, which meant 45 billion renminbi of sales that would have been expected without the pandemic were lost, say researchers.

Sourced from Shanghai Daily, Nielsen, Kantar