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Sustainability has gained more traction among shoppers, according to Coresight Research — and the much-needed change in consumers’ sentiments took place during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the firm’s weekly U.S. consumer survey, some 29 percent of respondents said the pandemic has prioritized sustainability for shoppers, citing reasons such as shifting priorities and lockdown, “indicating the potential for rapid change.” Comparatively, some 16 percent said the crisis made sustainability less of a factor.

“Among those who said the crisis has made sustainability more of a factor, the number-one reason cited was that consumers have reflected on what is most important amid the pandemic, followed by the lockdown showing the immediate impact of changed behaviors on the planet,” authors of the report said. Among those who said the crisis has made sustainability less of a factor, it’s due to other things that have taken priority, such as avoiding the virus and saving money, they added.

And consumers said reducing plastics should be the most important sustainability issue for retailers, as packaging is a “huge” concern for shoppers seeking sustainability. “Making packaging biodegradable, recyclable or reusable was ranked the second-most important sustainability action for retailers, followed by reducing packaging.”

Coresight Research

Image courtesy of Coresight Research. 

They added, “In general, consumers seem more concerned with the issue of product and packaging disposal for the end-products they can see than the supply chain impacts that they don’t see, such as the use of chemicals, use of water and carbon emissions.”

But shopping in public, it seems, is still declining in popularity. Eighty percent of respondents said they continue to avoid shopping in any public area.

“The proportion of respondents that are currently avoiding shopping centers/malls slid slightly again this week, to 58 percent this week, compared to six in 10 last week. Although shopping malls remained the most-avoided places among consumers, we have seen a gradual declining trend in the avoidance rate, which has dropped by roughly eight percentage points from the peak of two-thirds on July 22. In a separate survey question, we found that the proportions of consumers visiting open-air and enclosed shopping malls in the past two weeks both increased slightly,” the authors noted.

As far as avoiding food service locations, the proportion of respondents fell back by almost six percentage points to the lowest level seen since June. And as for entertainment and leisure venues, this week was the highest decline in avoidance rate, of almost seven percentage points.

For more Business news from WWD, see:

Outdoor Brands Talk Coronavirus Impacts

Brick-and-Mortar, Digital Retailers Adjust Strategies in Wake of Coronavirus

Field Notes: How Fabric Is Helping Save the Planet

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