Consumer COVID forecast—majority of Americans believe stores should reopen in May

by | Apr 14, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

We’re all wondering when we can get back to some semblance of normalcy, and the recent news that coronavirus infections may be plateauing in hot spots like New York has consumers hopeful, according to the latest study from First Insight.

The research found that an overall majority (60 percent) of consumers in the U.S. feel that stores should reopen by the end of May. Fielded on April 3rd, the study also found increasing optimism among consumers living in several hot spots outside of New York, Millennials and men, who were most likely to believe stores should be open weeks earlier—at the end of April or early May.

However, it’s worth noting that concerns about the impact of coronavirus continue to grow, with 87 percent of consumers surveyed now saying they are worried about the coronavirus, vs. 71 percent in the last survey in Mid-March—an increase of 23 percent.

woman in closed shop with mask

Other key findings:

Some coronavirus hot spots showing optimism

While overall, 32 percent of respondents felt stores should open by the end of April/beginning of May, optimism was higher in several Coronavirus Hot Spots. Forty-three percent of respondents living in Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Francisco felt stores should reopen by the end of April or early May. By comparison, 35 percent of respondents in the New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut areas felt the same, on par with rural areas (the survey was performed before Governor Cuomo’s executive order extending the New York Pause to the end of April). The greater Seattle area in Washington State showed to be the least optimistic, with only 28 percent of respondents agreeing.

Men are ready to head to stores sooner

While 65 percent of men and 54 percent of women felt stores should reopen by the end of May, 39 percent of male respondents felt stores should open weeks earlier, by the end of April/Early May, compared to women (25 percent).

Empty parking lot in front of the biggest shopping mall in Algarve - MAR Shopping Mall, Designer Outlet and Ikea - due to emergency state caused by coronavirus pandemic

Empty parking lots are an all-too-common site these days.

Millennials hopeful about shopping sooner

Between 59-63 percent of respondents across every generation felt stores should be open by the end of May. However, Millennials are proving to be the most hopeful that stores will be opening sooner, with 39 percent of Millennials feeling stores should be open by the end of April/early May compared to 31 percent of Generation Z, 30 percent of Generation X and 28 percent of Baby Boomers.

“It’s clear that people are getting antsy and ready to get back to some form of normalcy, including shopping in-store,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, in a news release. “However, the continuing increases in percentages of those worried about the coronavirus in the last weeks points to the true reality of the situation. We may still have a way to go.”

Virus pandemic negative results in markets

“That said, it is important that retailers and brands continue planning by ensuring they have the right product and price when the time comes, even if it’s just being offered online for now,” Petro added. “It’s a delicate balance, but those who are connected closest with their customers will be best aligned should they be given the green light to reopen their doors.”

First Insight’s findings are based on the results of three U.S. consumer studies of targeted samples of more than 500 respondents each balanced by gender, geography and generation, fielded on February 28, March 17, and April 3, 2020. The study was completed through proprietary sample sources among panels who participate in online surveys. 

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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