Pandemic Forecasting: How Long Will COVID Impact Grocers?

Nov 5, 2020

Just how long is this pandemic going to last? 

That's the question on many Americans' minds as we enter the eight month of isolation, social distancing, quarantining, limited social lives, and increased time online. It's also one of the questions that Helen Leis, Oliver Wyman's Health and Life Sciences Partner and former CDC pandemic response planner, answered for IGA CEO John Ross during a recent webinar. 

Using insights gleaned from observable data collected from across more than 40 countries and each industry sector, Oliver Wyman created a pandemic forecasting tool to deliver scientifically based, politically unbiased scenarios for health outcomes among various stages of the pandemic. During the webinar, Leis used that tool to explore how those outcomes would heavily influence the grocery industry and specifically independent retailers. 

Key findings include:

  • There are several types of vaccines currently being developed, some of which will require multiple boosters to be effective.
  • Best case scenario forecasting requires federal mandates for mask-wearing, receiving vaccines, and more.
  • Cautiously optimistic predictions say the soonest the U.S. can resume nearly pre-COVID normal behaviors, like not needing to wear masks, is September 2021.
  • As COVID cases spike while many U.S. states head into cooler weather, many restaurants will continue to close to indoor service or cease operations, creating an opportunity for grocers to capture larger basket sizes.
  • Americans are tired of cooking and looking to grocers for meal solutions and meal builders to inspire recipes and reduce cooking time.

"We've been in this pandemic for a while now, and IGA retailers need to know realistically how much longer it may last so that they can better cater to shoppers," IGA CEO John Ross says. "Are we going to see another run on supplies? Will restaurants close again? Do we still need to invest in eCommerce and meal solutions for our shoppers?" 

Watch the webinar below to find answers to those questions and more, and use the  Oliver Wyman Pandemic Navigator to help you plan your own business scenarios based on virus transmission projections in your specific region of the country or the world. 


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