How have the grocery shopping practices of university students in Jönköping been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study

University essay from Jönköping University/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Jönköping University/IHH, Företagsekonomi

Abstract: With the COVID-19 pandemic taking over the world faster than anyone had anticipated and creating a ‘new normal’, consumers had to adapt and get used to these changes. The pandemic caused lockdowns in several parts of the world, where businesses, schools, and stores had to shut their doors, although essential stores such as grocery stores remained open. Not only did this happen, but consumers' social life was also impacted as they were asked to stay at home and limit their contact with other people. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in the practices of consumers, with food and safety being one of the most essential needs, consumers converted to stockpiling on food and hygienic products which led to a lower on shelf availability in grocery stores. Even though many countries around the world imposed a lockdown, Sweden never imposed any lockdown during the COVID-19 period, making it an interesting country to research. Although Sweden did implement some measures which for all public areas meant a limited amount of people allowed in the store, whereas other measures were more focused on recommendations such as keeping distance, avoiding large crowds, and working and studying from home as much as possible. Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic did impact university students in Sweden, as student life completely stopped on campus and classes were partly given through Zoom. The city of Jönköping is a city where many students live, and over 19.000 students are registered at the university of Jönköping. These students are in a crucial stage of their life where new experiences and changes are happening. This initiated the purpose of the study to research whether the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the grocery shopping practices of students pre and during the COVID-19 pandemic in the city of Jönköping. To perform the research a qualitative study has been conducted. An interview was formulated after reviewing the literature to gather information from university students in Jönköping, where the aim was to analyze their grocery shopping practices before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 15 university students were interviewed, in the age range of 23-26, who all study and live in the city of Jönköping during the pandemic. To study the practices of the students, the framework of Arsel and Bean (2013) has been applied. The objects and doings of the students pre and during COVID-19 have been researched and analyzed, and from the collected data, categories of meanings have been identified to analyze the meanings of the objects that were used and the doings that were performed by the informants. Changes in practices were identified in which the students mainly kept the same grocery shopping routine with adaptations to protect themselves against the virus. The grocery stores are visited less frequently, and items are avoided out of fear of getting infected. The main practices identified is that the students started to wash their hands, keep distance, and started to use hand sanitizer as protective measures. This thesis provides a guide for governmental institutions on how consumers react to regulations during a pandemic. Also, this may help grocery stores to know how consumers adapt their grocery shopping practices amidst a pandemic.

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