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Caregivers Face Shopping Challenges

Family Caregiver Retail Preferences and Challenges

Most American caregivers shop for their loved one, and most who shop say they prefer to do so in a physical store. Yet, many find it challenging and would like retailers to do more to accommodate them, according to a recent AARP national survey on caregiver retail preferences and challenges.

Nearly 40 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers for a friend or family member. Nearly all (93%) say they shop for their care recipients, most often buying groceries (83%), household basics (65%), toiletries (61%), or prescription drugs (58%).

This additional caregiving responsibility can be both time consuming and expensive. AARP reports more than half of caregivers shell out $50 of their own money on groceries for others and 41% spend $250 or more a month on items their loved one needs.

Nearly eight in ten caregivers who shop say they would rather do so in a physical store than online. Among the perks of shopping the old-fashioned way: being able to see, touch, or try on products (62%), and not having to wait for delivery (53%) or pay for it (51%).

About half of those surveyed say they take their loved one along on shopping trips. For those whose caregiving is more time consuming and emotionally stressful, however, shopping in a store can be particularly difficult. Challenges uncovered in the survey include inconvenient store hours, no staff trained on the needs of adults with a chronic or serious health condition, and no assistance in loading purchases.

No wonder some caregivers turn to online shopping. Crunched for time, 83% of caregivers shop online (16% often, 42% sometimes, 25% rarely, and 16% never). Caregivers who do shop online say it’s easier to find products they need (56%), and they don’t have to wait in lines (52%). 

According to the survey, many caregivers would like to see brick-and-mortar businesses offer more services that cater to their needs, such as designated caregiver parking, in-store seating, longer store hours, and wide aisles with room for wheelchairs. Nearly six in ten say that pharmacy delivery services are extremely helpful. About four in ten say the same about in-home care services, transportation services, grocery delivery, and adult day centers.

The nationwide poll was conducted August 1–19, 2019, using the AmeriSpeak Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,127 adult unpaid caregivers providing regular care for someone age 18+.


Suggested citation:

Skufca, Laura. Family Caregiver Retail Preferences and Challenges. Washington, DC: AARP Research, September 2019.

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