Millennials all over the shop during Level 4 lockdown

Life under lockdown looked similar for most Kiwis, but the way we shopped at the supermarket divided the nation amongst old and young.

Countdown’s Onecard data shows that younger customers boldly swapped their usual takeaways and dinners out for home-cooked meals.  But while it would be easy to imagine customers under 35 switching to pre-prepared or convenience foods, younger shoppers’ Level 4 habits marked a return to days of old, with pantry staples and plenty of fresh produce making their way into younger customers’ shopping trolleys, while pre-made meals and snacks stayed put on the shelves.

This back to basics approach saw the average younger Countdown customer spend 51 per cent more on cooking and baking needs than in the same 2019 time period, contributing to the most overall growth in this category.

“Millennials and Gen Zs have found their untapped potential in the kitchen, and in the era of Instagram foodie fan pages and recipe inspiration at the click of a finger, our younger customers have celebrated cooking over lockdown using mostly staples and some elbow grease,” says Steve Mills, Countdown’s Head of Merchandise. 

“It was also interesting to see the health category make a real comeback with customers under 35 too, favourites like avocados and smoothie-friendly soy milk being really popular with this age-group,” adds Steve. 

Older New Zealanders took government advice, with more staying home and choosing to instead shop online.  Countdown saw a significant 30 per cent drop in the number of older customers entering its stores compared to the same time last year, with online shopping by those over 60 skyrocketing from just nine per cent before lockdown to 25 per cent in Level 4.

Countdown’s Onecard data also reveals the detail on the massive demand seen for flour right across the country, with a 93 per cent increase in demand over the same 2019 time period.

“Kiwis have baked up a storm,” says Steve Mills.  “In our 1.5kg Countdown branded flour alone, we’ve provided more than 470 tonnes to households, which is enough flour to make almost 2 million cakes.”

With home baking on the rise, it’s no wonder off the shelf cakes, confectioneries and bars saw the biggest decline in sales. Health conscious millennials spent more time in the produce aisles, and older shoppers enjoyed the convenience of frozen fruit and veg.

Countdown’s Covid-19 lockdown facts:

  • Popular products over lockdown included: flour, baking powder, yeast, avocados, canned vegetables, sharable chips, long-life milk and fresh poultry.
  • Soy milk sales increased by 40 per cent, and could have filled up more than 11,000 car tanks
  • Tuna sales increased by 30 per cent - equivalent to 200,000 tuna fish
  • Countdown has sold more than 21,000,000 toilet rolls since the end of February.  If these were unrolled and connected together the distance is almost equivalent to travelling to the moon and back.
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