Survey: Consumer Behaviour During COVID-19 Pandemic


Posted on 9 July 2020 Jason Widjaja & Catherine Chipeta


On 13–14 May 2020, we conducted an omnibus survey on ~500 general population respondents each from the UK and USA to understand the impact of the pandemic on consumer behaviour.

The drastic measures nations are taking to overcome COVID-19 are limiting fundamental components of our lifestyles by way of lockdowns, loss of work, restricted travel, and a sense of uncertainty. Unsurprisingly, these changes are significantly affecting buying decisions, as consumers seek to navigate through this unprecedented time.

On 13–14 May 2020, we conducted an omnibus survey on ~500 general population respondents each from the UK and USA to understand the impact of the pandemic on consumer behaviour.

We’ve got some interesting insights from our recent omnibus survey to share with you.

During the COVID-19 period, consumers are worried, anxious and frustrated

With more time spent at home and a lack of clarity surrounding the near future, consumers are notably feeling worried, bored, and anxious during this time.

Worry and anxiety are the most apparent feelings for the UK and USA, respectively. Whilst UK respondents are more likely to be worried and anxious, they also note lower levels of irritation and frustration than the US, who are happier and slightly calmer.

Consumer health and economic impact concerns

Consumers are worried about contracting the COVID-19 virus and concerned about economic implications

Health and economic impacts are the two strongest concerns for respondents, as fears of contracting COVID-19 ramp up and employment plummets.

Both factors are of concern to most respondents, with the UK slightly more concerned about health over the economy. The USA are almost equally as concerned with health and economic circumstances surrounding the virus. In both countries the majority consider themselves “Somewhat concerned” or “Very concerned” with slightly higher levels of “Indifference” from the UK.

Consumer health and economic impact concerns

To pass the time during isolation, consumers mostly watch TV or streaming services and do housework

As lockdowns are forcing entertainment venues to close and the public to remain at home, consumers are finding more domestic means of recreation and occupation, with TV and housework occupying the time of most respondents from both countries.

Consumers are also favouring online shopping, an expected trend given the closure of many brick-and-mortar stores. Interestingly, cooking is also a popular activity, likely due to the extra time at home now available to consumers.

Consumer activities during COVID-19

Conversing with friends and families as well as new TV and music generally keeps consumers comfortable

Heightened feelings of negativity and changes in everyday living are seeing consumers take comfort in both elements of normalcy and elements of intrigue.

With lockdowns forcing consumers into isolation, talking to friends and family is the main source of comfort for both the UK and USA.

New TV shows and music are both the next biggest sources of comfort for the UK and USA, respectively. The USA appears more eager for lockdowns to end than the UK, with higher numbers seeking comfort from the prospect of life going back to normal. In contrast, the UK are more interested in finding new ways to have fun and exercise.

Sources of comfort during COVID-19 pandemic

Consumers look forward to hanging out with friends and family, and dining out after COVID-19

Consumers are thinking about the activities they once enjoyed regularly and what they will get up to once restrictions begin to lift. As a noted source of comfort for both the UK and USA, seeing friends and family is also the main activity that consumers are looking forward to, followed by dining out, possibly for similar social reasons.

Notably, the UK are much more eager to be able to travel overseas than the USA, who would prefer to travel domestically and partake in other local activities such as shopping and going to the cinema.

Consumers look forward to hanging out and dining out after COVID-19

More than half of consumers are expecting a reduction in their household income due to COVID-19 crisis

The damaging effects of COVID-19 on the economy are disrupting job security, with more than half of all consumers expecting reductions to their household income due to redundancies, furloughs, layoffs, and lower work availability.

Whilst the UK and USA are both being hit hard by this, more consumers in the USA are losing their entire household income whilst a greater percentage of UK consumers are experiencing no change to their income at all.

Conversely, the USA reported a higher number of respondents as benefitting from the circumstances through increased hours, business, and benefits than the UK.

Expected income changes due to COVID-19

UK consumers are expecting to spend less on shopping and eating out and more on savings and investments

Households are adjusting their budgets in anticipation of income loss caused by COVID-19. The UK and USA allocate the majority of their budgets to groceries and rent, with the UK allocating less money on eating out and more on shopping, possibly due to cooking at home more often.

UK Budget allocation pre and post COVID-19

USA consumers are looking at spending less on entertainment and groceries and more on savings and investments

USA consumers are allocating less to most aspects of their budget and a higher percentage towards savings/investments.

USA Budget allocation pre and post COVID-19

Learn how COVID-19 is affecting your business

Each industry is currently experiencing unique changes in consumer behaviour and trends, with differing requirements. If you want to understand how COVID-19 is directly impacting your business, we suggest reassessing and refining your ongoing studies. Schedule a consultation with our team for research support and assistance that meets your needs.