CHICAGO — Consumers said they were feeling better about personal finances and prioritizing value over speed when they shop, according to a study’s seventh survey wave released April 7 by dunnhumby, a company involved in customer data science. The global study, which began with a first wave in March and April of 2020, contacted 48,499 respondents from 22 countries online and examined how COVID-19 impacted consumer attitudes and behavior.

“While this wave marks the first time since the pandemic struck that consumers are feeling better financially, we are also seeing value seeking driving shopping behavior,” said Grant Steadman, president for North America at dunnhumby. “It’s noteworthy that consumers are now prioritizing value instead of speed, which was their key driver for much of 2020.”

Among US consumers, the survey found 43% in February 2021 said they were paying more for food than they did before COVID-19 and 24% said they were paying less. Value-seeking consumers in the United States came in at 70%, which compared to quality-seeking consumers at 13%.

Eighty percent of US consumers said they were taking at least one action to seek value. The most popular action, at 52%, was shopping at stores with everyday low prices.  Other actions were buying some brands on sale at 36%, stocking up on products that are on sale or promotion at 36%, searching online to find the best sales at 34%, searching online for coupons at 34%, and buying private brands when available at 33%. When asked what stores provide the best value, 36% said Walmart, 10% said Kroger, 10% said Aldi and 6% said Amazon.

In the United States, 58% of consumers in February said the economy was weak, which was down from 75% in March and April 2020, and 39% said their finances were poor, down from 54% in November.

Americans in February were at their lowest level of worry about the COVID-19 virus, 23%, since the pandemic began, according to the dunnhumby worry index, which defines “worry” as someone who is extremely worried about the virus and is concerned they could contract the virus or do not feel safe while shopping. The level of worry among Americans was 32% in November 2020.

 The level of online shopping continues to increase globally. Consumers who said they were shopping online, both for pickup and delivery, rose to 36% in February 2021 from 23% in March and April 2020. Net satisfaction was 53% for pickup and 49% for delivery. Consumers who said they were shopping in stores dropped to 64% in February 2021 from 77% in March and April 2020.

Online surveys were conducted in seven waves. Waves on March 29 to April 1, 2020, April 11-14, 2020, May 27-31, 2020, and July 9-12, 2020, involved consumers in the United States, Canada and Mexico only. The other three waves came from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, 2020, Nov. 20-25, 2020, and Feb. 18-24, 2021. About 400 consumers in each country were interviewed in each wave.

Other countries in the study were Australia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Chile and Colombia.