The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the retail environment. Due to safety concerns, lockdowns, social distancing protocols, and other actions to minimize disease spread, consumers shifted from buying plants through traditional brick and mortar stores to online and curbside pickup options. Online plant purchases increased the most for mass merchandisers and box stores. Conversely, curbside pick-up increased the most for independent garden centers, followed by box stores. Customers who increased their online plant purchases were less likely to revert to their pre-pandemic buying behaviors after the pandemic while curbside pick-up customers were more likely to revert to their pre-pandemic buying behaviors. Several factors likely contributed to these results. First, online plant sales provide several benefits including increased convenience and accessibility, especially for consumers who do not live near the retail outlet. Additionally, as customers gained experience with online plant shopping, their confidence in receiving a high-quality product likely increased. As a result, e-commerce may be an attractive sales option for some firms, especially if they saw a strong increase during the pandemic. Secondly, curbside pick-up shoppers likely live near the retail store, so accessibility is not an issue. These individuals may also value the plant shopping experience meaning they perceive the retail environment positively and want to be physically present to shop for plants.
Rihn, Alicia. “The COVID Effect and Southeast Consumers’ Plant Purchasing Behavior“. Southern Ag Today 2(2.5). January 7, 2022. Permalink