Many brands and retailers are counting the days until COVID vaccines have been administered to everyone and retail habits get back to normal. But new research from First Insight suggests this view might be overly optimistic, if not altogether unrealistic. Nearly a third of American consumers are unsure about receiving or will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine when they become eligible, and even those who plan to get vaccinated will not be rushing back in-store, the research finds.
Forty percent of consumers say they will shop for apparel in-store either less or the same amount after being vaccinated, a theme that is reflected across in-store visits for footwear (44 percent), accessories (43 percent), beauty products (45 percent), luxury items (41 percent) and electronics (43 percent). Further, the majority of consumers (61 percent) said they would cut back on spending if a national lockdown were enforced.
“Clearly, the vaccine is not the silver bullet that is going to bring retail back from the brink,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, in a news release. “Our latest research shows that even with a vaccine, people will still be afraid to go in-store, and fully prepared to cut back on spending if the nation returns to another lockdown. It’s time for retailers to create better connections with consumers by targeting them with the right marketing messages, and bringing them the right product assortment, pricing and experiences that will entice them to spend both in-store as well as online. First Insight has empowered some of the world’s largest brands with Voice of Customer insights to help them understand their consumers better and build relationships and experiences that can reinforce safety, strengthen loyalty and increase sales in this difficult environment.”
Spikes in COVID are keeping people away from stores
Sixty percent of respondents to the First Insight survey stated that spikes in COVID-19 are deterring them from shopping in-store.
People are feeling less safe now than before the holidays when trying on and testing products in-store
Seventy-one percent of respondents feel unsafe testing beauty products compared to 67 percent in November of 2020 (a 6 percent increase). Similarly, 62 percent felt unsafe trying on products in a dressing room versus 55 percent in November (a 13 percent increase). Sixty percent felt unsafe trying on shoes compared to 51 percent in November (an 18 percent increase). Lastly, 59 percent feel unsafe working with a sales associate, compared to 51 percent at the time of the last survey (a 16 percent increase).
Women are more worried about safety in-store than men
While 63 percent of men feel unsafe testing beauty in-store, 80 percent of women surveyed feel the same way. Similarly, 51 percent of men feel unsafe trying on products in dressing rooms versus 73 percent of women. Fifty-two percent of men versus 67 percent of women feel unsafe trying on shoes, and 51 percent of men versus 68 percent of women feel unsafe working with a sales associate.
More men plan to wear masks in-store than women
Worth noting, 53 percent of respondents overall plan to continue to wear a face mask in-store after being vaccinated, with more men (61 percent) planning to wear a mask than women (47 percent).
Coronavirus impacting purchase decisions even more than nearly a year ago
At the end of February 2020, 44 percent of respondents felt that the pandemic was impacting their purchase decisions, versus 76 percent in January of 2021 (a 73 percent increase).
The number of consumers who cut back on spending due to COVID has increased 69 percent over the past year
When compared to February, 2020, when 35 percent of respondents were cutting back on spending due to the pandemic, 59 percent said the same in January of 2021.
First Insight has been tracking consumer data since February 28, 2020. These 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 January 13, 2021. It was completed through proprietary sample sources amongst panels who participate in online surveys.