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Canadians concerned about COVID-19, but panic buying not as widespread as reports suggest

Less than half of Canadians say they have stocked up on provisions since the crisis began, according to new research
Shutterstock/Thana Thanadechaku

While the vast majority of Canadians (71%) are concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak, more than half (59%) say they have not purchased provisions since it began, according to a new cross-country survey of shopping habits.

Conducted by: Angus Reid on behalf of Dalhousie University.

Methodology: A survey of 1,014 Canadians conducted March 13-15, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1% 19 times out of 20.

Key findings:

  • 71% of respondents are generally concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak. Concern is most pronounced in Quebec (79% of respondents) and least pronounced in Saskatchewan (40%).

  • Only 41% of respondents have purchased provisions since the outbreak began, led by 52% of Manitoba residents. Only 31% of Quebecers have purchased provisions.

  • Among Canadians that have purchased provisions, 30% purchased dry and canned goods, while 24% purchased other items including sanitary products, tissues and toilet paper, as well as frozen foods. Fifteen percent of people who purchased provisions bought either comfort foods and/or pet food.

  • The Atlantic Region saw the highest rate of people purchasing non-food items such as sanitary products, tissues and toilet paper, at 33%.

  • Nearly two-thirds of Canadians (63%) said they had provisions at home prior to the outbreak, led by 68% of Manitobans. The lowest rate was Ontario at 61%.

  • Only 3% of Canadians have opted to purchase groceries online since the outbreak. 

"Technologies such as online grocery shopping and food delivery apps have not made much progress, despite their social distancing appeal," according to the study. "While Quebec is the one province with the most respondents having provisions before the outbreak, Manitoba appears to have been the most active region when buying provisions to prepare for the outbreak."


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