Impact of Pandemics on Consumer Behaviour

Pandemics disrupt demand and supply and, in turn, alter modes of consumer engagement. Usually, Pandemics have significant social and buying consequences, with a high prevalence of fundamental shifts in consumer consumption. During epidemics, consumption patterns change considerably, and customers become more rational and cost-conscious. For example, The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a vast and abrupt decline in collective consumer expenditure and increased personal savings. As a result, buying and shopping behavior have been disrupted, with consumers adjusting and adopting new purchase behaviors. Research posits that there is “a large initial increase in savings during the pandemic.” Additional research reveals that during past pandemics, “spending declines initially were proportionally similar across incomes although modestly larger for the 25 percent of households, which in normal times spend more than other households on non-essential goods and services such as travel, entertainment, and restaurant meals.” This trend is gaslighted by Increased unemployment rates, lower labor income, and stimulus, socioeconomic insurgence initiatives that raise low-income households’ liquidity and savings. Nonetheless, this is a common issue resulting from variables such as gender, retirement, and security, with consumers opting for cautious purchasing during pandemics.

Besides, pandemic forces undermine traditional consumption patterns. Jagdish states that “in the process, existing habits are discarded, and new ways to consume are invented.” Pandemics like the Bubonic Plague and the Spanish Flu have made it unavoidable in the past for some well-known purchasing habits to be phased out. As pandemics become more prevalent, new government laws and regulations emerge, causing established consumer habits to shift. As research posits, “what was a peripheral alternative to the existing habit now becomes the core, and the existing habit becomes the peripheral.” As a result, new rules and regulations such as masking, health checks, altered movement patterns, more virtual meetings, and maintaining a social distance have impacted existing buying and shipping behaviors.

Furthermore, pandemics cause a large portion of the population to alter their lifestyle drastically. For example, before Covid-19 became prevalent, there was a high level of consumer-shop interaction. However, pandemic-set government policies resulted in less consumer-shop involvement during the pandemic, with most purchasers preferring internet purchasing. Of course, due to most nations’ lockdowns, many consumers turn to the internet, which is regarded as having a lower risk of COVID 19 transmission. To be more specific, technology has influenced the formation of new habits such as online shopping. With digital tools dissolving the lines between work, living, social interaction, and sectors including transportation, healthcare, and money, people have increased digital tools in their personal and professional lives following the epidemic, allowing them to stay connected in physically isolated locations.


Bachas, Natalie, Peter Ganong, Pascal J. Noel, Joseph S. Vavra, Arlene Wong, Diana Farrell, and Fiona E. Greig. Initial impacts of the pandemic on consumer behavior: Evidence from linked income, spending, and savings data. No. w27617. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020.

Greig, Natalie Cox, Peter Ganong, Pascal Noel, Joseph Vavra, Arlene Wong, Diana Farrell, and Fiona. 2020. “Initial Impacts of the Pandemic on Consumer Behavior.” Brookings. June 25, 2020.

Jagdish, S. “Impact of Covid-19 On Consumer Behavior: Will the Old Habits Return or Die?”. NCBI, 2020.