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Increased Use of Low-Contact Services May Prove Permanent

Increased Use of Low-Contact Services May Prove Permanent

by Zach Hrynowski

Story Highlights

  • All low-contact services measured continue to be used more frequently
  • Pickup services see highest increases in use
  • A majority of more frequent users will continue using these services

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As social distancing guidelines persist in the U.S., growing numbers of consumers are increasingly turning to virtual, delivery and pickup options for essential goods and services. Gallup began tracking six of these measures on its probability-based web panel in late March, and the latest April 13-19 update finds Americans reporting more frequent use of each.

Americans' Low Contact Behavior During COVID-19
During the coronavirus situation, have you been doing each of the following more often, less often or about the same? % More often
Grocery delivery Restaurant or pizzeria delivery Picked up takeout from a restaurant Curbside pickup at a store Medicine or medical supply delivery Virtual visit with a doctor
% % % % % %
Mar 23-29 8 10 26 16 4 11
Mar 30-Apr 6 12 14 27 20 5 12
Apr 6-12 14 15 31 25 6 14
Apr 13-19 14 17 32 28 7 18
Gallup Panel

Among these services, Americans are most likely to report increased use of pickup services now than before the COVID-19 situation. Thirty-two percent of Americans say they are ordering takeout from a restaurant more often than they used to, and 28% say the same about curbside pickup from retail stores. Over the last few weeks, reports of greater reliance on curbside pickup have grown the most -- 12 percentage points from the initial reading on March 29.

All Low-Contact Services May Enjoy Permanent Gains

Americans' expectations of whether their increased use of each of these services will continue after the coronavirus situation is over vary from service to service. For all six items, a majority of more frequent users say they will continue to access these services.

The Likelihood Americans Will Continue to Use Low Contact Services After COVID-19
Once widespread business closures and social distancing practices are ended, how likely are you to continue to do each of the following on a more frequent basis? %Very likely/Likely
Mar 30-Apr 6 Apr 6-12 Apr 13-19
% % %
Order groceries by delivery 63 65 59
Order food from a restaurant or pizzeria by delivery 74 74 76
Pick up takeout from a restaurant 66 66 69
Order medicine or medical supplies by delivery 76 81 71
Have a virtual visit with a doctor 67 69 70
Use curbside pickup at a store 60 58 62
Gallup Panel

18% of Americans say they are having virtual visits with a doctor more often than in the past -- an increase of seven percentage points from recent weeks. Moreover, 70% say they are likely to continue using telemedicine services -- including 35% who say they are very likely -- suggesting that more of these new users are being converted into permanent patients.

Conversely, 7% of respondents report having medicine or medical supplies delivered more often than usual. Seventy-one percent of these more frequent users say they will continue to receive medical supply deliveries even after the coronavirus situation subsides.

Finally, the percentage of Americans having groceries delivered more often (14%) has increased six points since March 29. However, the percentage of new users likely to continue doing so in the future is lower than all other items at 59%.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

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