6-22 Update: The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Consumer Behavior
The data in this post is from an earlier version of our COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey. Click below to view the most recent version of these insights.
Across the country, states and cities have lifted their shelter-in-place orders and begun moving into the early phases of their reopening plans. For many, this means the ability to visit restaurants, salons, and other businesses previously deemed “non-essential.” In this latest iteration of our consumer sentiment survey, we saw a decline in COVID-19’s impact on shopping behavior and the level of concern consumers have regarding the virus. We also asked consumers how they felt about phased reopening plans, and which newly reinstated activities they were likely to resume in the coming weeks.
Consumers embrace non-essential activities as states reopen
As we settle into summer and approach the Fourth of July holiday, over half of consumers indicate an intent to travel domestically by car, meaning businesses catering to travel and hospitality may be in for a slight boost after months of inactivity. Two in three consumers said they would likely order pick-up or delivery from a restaurant in the coming weeks, but far fewer said they would dine-in at a restaurant. Less than one in five consumers said they would go to bars, gyms or movie theaters, despite many states allowing for the reopening of these types of businesses with proper social distancing measures in place. As we ease into the reopening process, businesses should expect a slow return to any out-of-home social activities and behaviors, particularly those that are indoors.
COVID-19 impact on consumer behavior down from prior weeks
This week, 83% of consumers said their shopping behavior had been impacted by Coronavirus, the lowest level we’ve seen in three months. Though the numbers are still high, we expect to see a sustained, slow decline in impact as more businesses get up-and-running again. However, given ongoing uncertainties, supply chain disruptions, and risks of potential resurgences in cases, it is likely we will continue to see fairly elevated levels of impact and occasional increases before we see a full return to normal.
Many shopping habits continue slow return to pre-COVID norms
For the second month in a row, many of the shopping impacts we’ve seen as a result of COVID-19 were down significantly versus late May. This is expected, given the widespread reopening of many non-essential stores and businesses, and we anticipate continued declines as states progress through their phased reopenings. Less than half of consumers experienced product shortages and less than a third encountered store closures. Despite in-store reopenings, online shopping remained elevated, with nearly half of consumers opting for online orders in lieu of in-store trips.
Online delivery and click-and-collect services continue to attract new users
Three-fourths of consumers surveyed said they had placed an online delivery (ship-to-home) order recently, and over half said they had placed an online order for pick-up (click-and-collect).
11% of those who placed an online ship-to-home order indicated it was their first time ever or first time in the past six months doing so; 27% of click-and-collect users said the same. While these numbers will fluctuate week-to-week, the overall trend is clear: there is a large, sustained shift online that doesn’t appear to be stopping soon. Retailers must continue to prioritize and invest in these delivery and click-and-collect options. For a more in-depth look at Click & Collect, take a look at our latest report.
Concern over Coronavirus at lowest level since mid-March
Of those surveyed, 88% said their regions had entered at least Phase 1 of a reopening plan, which allows some non-essential businesses to reopen their doors. The majority (46%) of these individuals said the reopening had not changed their level of concern regarding the virus, but many (39%) said their concerns had increased slightly as their regions began reopening. Attitudes surrounding reopening are split-- 43% believe their region is reopening at the right pace, 34% think it’s moving too quickly, and 23% believe reopening was overdue.
Despite some consumers experiencing increased concern in the face of reopening, overall level of concern was down in this latest survey, with only 18% of consumers rating themselves as “very concerned (10/10)” about Coronavirus. After reaching a peak the first week of April, we’ve seen a sustained decline in concern among consumers.
Fear of infection rises to top concern
While economic impact has been the top concern for the past couple months, fear of becoming infected with Coronavirus has now become the top consumer concern. While the reopening of non-essential businesses signifies good news for the economy and workers across the country, the notable increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is cause for alarm for many consumers. Even as the country begins reopening, it’s going to take time to rebuild confidence and feelings of safety and security in this time of COVID-19, and balancing economic wellbeing with physical health and wellness will remain difficult.
Given the fast-changing nature of the outbreak, we anticipate continued fluctuations in behavior, impact and levels of concern in the coming weeks. As seen recently, even the lifting of stay-at-home orders will not be a quick-fix for businesses or consumers, but rather will initiate a slow return to a new normal. Now more than ever, it will be important to monitor consumer behavior and sentiment in order to navigate reopening communities and adjusting to this new normal.
Numerator will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure brands and retailers have the most up-to-date information on consumer behavior. Each week during the outbreak we will publish a variety of resources to help you understand COVID-19’s impact on consumers. All of these resources can be found on our Coronavirus Research Center.
For more information on how your brand or category is affected by COVID-19, please contact your Numerator Customer Success and Consultants or get in touch with us.