According to First Insight’s latest consumer survey, consumer worry is down for the first time since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic — dropping to 59% compared to 87% just one year earlier, in April 2020.
First Insight’s study looked at surveys taken by consumers over time, starting in February 2020, to better gauge overall concern about COVID-19 and how it will affect shopping and purchase behaviors.
Despite saying they are less worried about the virus overall, consumers said spending behaviors are unchanged with many not quite ready to begin spending at pre-pandemic levels. In fact, the survey revealed that six in 10 consumers continue to say that they expect to cut back on spending from pre-pandemic levels, which is only a slight improvement (59% versus 62%) over the previous year. Researchers of the report said the findings suggest that consumer spending habits may be undergoing a long-term shift.
At the same time, however, the survey found that expectations about purchase decisions is looking up — even if just slightly. When asked in April 2021, just three out of four consumers said purchase decisions have been impacted by the pandemic, compared to 89% in April 2020.
“Retailers may be encouraged by the green shoots they are seeing now that many places are reopening, but it would be foolish of them to assume that everything will magically revert to the way things were in 2019 or early 2020,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight. “More than a year after we began this study, our findings show that consumers are still very much concerned about how the pandemic is affecting their personal finances and overall feelings of safety while shopping.”
Some other areas where First Insight’s report showed growth in perceptions for in-store safety included trying on and testing. Half of respondents said they now feel safe trying on clothes in a dressing room — an improvement from 42% at the same time last year — and 53% said they feel safe trying on shoes in-store. When it comes to working with a sales associate, today, just 53% said they feel unsafe working with someone in-store.
Notably, 47% of respondents said they have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, while 24% have not but have plans to and 29% said they do not plan to get the vaccine or are unsure of plans to do so.