Retail Execution

New Retail Therapy Intel: Reach Consumers Suffering From COVID Fatigue

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
Liz Dominguez
COVID Shopping

Tattoos, llamas, and hot tubs — oh my!

Going into year three of COVID-19, some interesting consumer trends have emerged, highlighting that people are buying items they wouldn’t normally purchase to find a mental reprieve from the ongoing stress of living in pandemic times. 

A new report from Emarsys, an SAP company, which surveyed 2,000 people, found that consumers made pandemic purchases to stay busy (32%), be more self-sufficient with the extra time in lockdown (22%), and try something for the first time (20%). 

Reaching Consumers Where They Want to Be Reached

The data gives consumer goods and retailers a glimpse into how they can better reach consumers in this strange environment.

According to the research, email is still going strong, with 46% of respondents preferring that contact method, followed by only 16% preferring text messages. And of those siding with mobile communications, 66% enjoy continued touch points via text, even after their order is fulfilled. 

Customer service will remain at the core in 2022, especially as it relates to e-commerce and virtual experiences. In this new year, nearly half (48%) of respondents are in search of good deals and offers, but 30% really want a seamless shopping experience — both online and in-store.

Importantly, only one in four (25%) respondents are looking for more in-store shopping this year, meaning the focus should remain on the digital relationship between retailers and consumers, with companies cultivating meaningful and personalized experiences.

"Immediate gratification and a yearning for self-improvement undeniably influenced consumer shopping habits in 2021. As we grapple with entering the third year of COVID-19, it's crucial for retailers to understand that consumers' purchasing behaviors and expectations are evolving, both in terms of the products they buy and the experiences they desire both online and in-store."
— Meghann York, Global Head of Product Marketing, Emarsys

Top 10 Items Purchased During the Pandemic


  • Fitness equipment (70%)
  • Paints and paintbrushes (23%)
  • Loungewear (18%)
  • Board games (16%)
  • A pet (14%)
  • Canvases (14%)
  • Home nail kit/gel lamp (14%)
  • Jigsaw puzzles (13%)
  • Reading or sleeping pillow (13%)
  • Baking set (12%)


Top 5 Interesting Items Purchased During the Pandemic


  • Home tattoo kit (7%)
  • Hot tub (5%)
  • Butter churn (4%)
  • Pinball machine (4%)
  • Sponsoring a llama (2%)


Experiential purchases are coming back, as consumers aspire to build a sense of normalcy. Nearly half of respondents (43%) would like to spend more money on social outings, like restaurant trips and vacations, in 2022. And companionship is still top of mind, with 13% reporting they’d like to spend money on a furry friend this year. 

“2021 was a rollercoaster and our purchases reflect that. In times of confusion and unrest, we seek not just comfort and stability, but meaning and fulfillment,” said York. “We swapped our suits for sweatsuits, picked up new hobbies, and invested our time and money in items that sparked joy and cultivated contentment.”

“In 2022, as a nation, we're hoping to get off that rollercoaster and exchange physical possessions for experiences, as well as take more time and care in our purchasing decisions," she added.