Consumers became hopeful again over the summer as the vaccinations increased and started to contain the spread of COVID, but that hope has once again diminished. Despite gains made in consumer confidence as recently as last month, new research from experience management firm First Insight indicates a significant shift in momentum, finding that the unvaccinated plan to stay that way, and the Delta variant is negatively affecting consumer confidence in the U.S.
Of the respondents unwilling to get vaccinated, 90 percent of them indicated that they won’t consider getting the vaccine to ensure access to restaurants and businesses across the country that have begun to implement proof-of-vaccine mandates.
Additionally, the survey saw a 25 percent increase since July 2021 in the number of consumers admitting that they are “very or somewhat worried” about COVID, from 51 percent to 64 percent, the highest one-month jump recorded since March 2020.
Spending will likely suffer
The recent findings further indicate that more than half (56 percent) of the consumers surveyed will be cutting back on their spending, an increase of 8 percent over last month.
“It is very telling that a mere 10 percent of respondents say they would consider getting the vaccine due to some businesses and restaurants requiring proof of vaccination,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, in a news release. “It appears that people’s minds are made up about whether to get vaccinated and more education may be required to change their minds. Hopefully, we will spend the time and effort to do so for everyone’s sake, thus allowing everyone to make his or her own, educated choice.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, First Insight has been engaged in a longitudinal study, polling more than 10,000 American consumers in total balanced across gender, geography and generations to gauge their overall concern about the virus, how COVID-19 will affect their spending, and whether the vaccine’s availability would alter their shopping behavior. This most recent study was fielded on August 5, 2021.
As the back-to-school shopping season kicks into high gear, safety concerns around in-store shopping have also increased
Fifty-three percent of respondents report that they feel unsafe trying on products in dressing rooms, 49 percent feel unsafe trying on shoes, and 71 percent feel unsafe testing beauty products in store. Fifty-six percent of respondents stated they feel unsafe working with a sales associate, a 30 percent increase from last month. However, this is not necessarily bad news for retail, as online shopping continues to rise, even at lower, single-digit growth rates than during the height of the pandemic.
Petro added, “I believe the trends we’re seeing may very well lead to families hunkering down again and curtailing experiential spending, especially for domestic and international travel, and shifting this spend toward physical products, including back to school items. Interestingly, women, the primary back-to-school shoppers, are significantly less likely to be vaccinated than men, with fully one-third of women stating that they don’t intend to be vaccinated vs. only 18 percent of men. Further, Millennials, the generation most likely to have school-age children, are also the least likely generation to be vaccinated.”
Restaurants and travel will also be affected by the increase in concern over the spread of the Delta variant
Two-thirds of those surveyed have said that they won’t go to restaurants or are cutting back significantly on dining out. Forty-four percent have canceled trips due to recent COVID-19 changes, and 65 percent have said that they won’t travel internationally. Furthermore, more than half (53 percent) have said that their return-to-work plans have changed.
First Insight’s findings were based on data from the company’s ongoing series of consumer sentiment studies entitled, “The Impact of Coronavirus on Consumer Purchase Decisions and Behaviors.” The findings are based on the results of U.S. consumer studies of targeted samples of more than 1,000 respondents, balanced by gender, geography and generation, and the latest survey was fielded on August 5, 2021. It was completed through proprietary sample sources among panels who participate in online surveys.