December 2, 2022

Kristina M. Currans, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, University of Arizona


Is Online Grocery Shopping as Sticky as In-person Shopping?


1:40pm - 3:00pm


1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village


In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. As stay-at-home orders were enacted, household provisioning behavior was dramatically impacted as stores and restaurants modified their hours, capacity, and policies. In response, consumers had to consider their risk tolerance while making decisions about when, where, and how often to shop for groceries. Whether by choice or necessity, many consumers tried e-grocery shopping for the first time in response to COVID. In this study, we explore how food acquisition behaviors have changed over the varying circumstances of the pandemic and the interplay between in-store and online shopping and the factors correlated with these behaviors. We examine food shopping behaviors over the course of the pandemic using a novel dataset—made publicly available in 2022—derived from a repeated, cross-sectional, online survey of consumers in five U.S. states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington. Data were collected over four waves between September 2020 and November 2021, enabling us to capture provisioning behavior at various stages of the pandemic as the virus intermittently surged and waned, and as vaccinations became widely available. The survey and data include questions about household socio-demographics, composition, and resources, and shopping preferences and behaviors, including frequency, locations, and use of e-commerce and delivery, as well as barriers to access. In this presentation, we will explore both the aggregate analysis demonstrating the considerable growth of online shopping adoption over the pandemic and the household-level analysis that considers associations between provisioning and travel behavior with characteristics of the consumers, their location, and public policy; and the potential “stickiness” of those behaviors over the long term. Results from this study are relevant for understanding the adoption of e-commerce for food shopping and the implications for transportation demand into the future.

Biographical Sketch

Kristina Currans, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Arizona studying the intersection between transportation and land development. Although she was trained as a civil engineer, her work spans between transportation planning and engineering disciplines. Her work focuses on exploring methods and processes as a critique for future research and existing practice, collecting new data to inform the relationship between travel behavior, the demand for activities, and land development, and translating her work into digestible information and/or tools for current and future practitioners as widely as possible. Currans’ research and teaching emphasizes a deeper understanding of travel and/or activity decisions made by individuals and households to inform more sustainable and livable methods and policies for practice.

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