COVID-19 Consumer Survey: May/Aug Data Trends


Posted on 22 September 2020 Edward Teh, Jason Widjaja, & Catherine Chipeta


Three months on from our initial survey Consumer Behaviour During COVID-19 Pandemic on 13 - 14 May 2020, we asked consumers the same series of questions to identify trends and changes in behaviour during this time on 11 - 18 August 2020.

Comparing results from our May survey, it appears consumers are more at ease with the adjusted lifestyle. Expectations surrounding income and travel have changed across the UK and USA, and there has been a shift in purchasing behaviour.

Here are the biggest trends and changes we have identified over the quarter:

General mood is settling

As consumers become more accustomed to restrictions and adjust to a different way of living, the previously reported feelings of worry, anxiety, and frustration reported across both the UK and USA have subsided.

UK Consumers are feeling less worried while USA consumers are feeling less anxious than they were in August. Both countries remain mostly anxious towards the pandemic; there has been a notable drop in the number of UK consumers who are worried. USA consumers are now more worried than the UK – a shift from the previous survey.

General mood: May vs August

Fewer income reductions expected

A major impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been a significant decline in consumers’ household income, due to causes such as redundancies, furloughs, and lay-offs. As restrictions begin to lift and places of employment reopen their doors, fewer consumers are expecting this to be the case as of August.

In May, over 50% of consumers in both the UK and USA expected an income reduction. Now, the number of consumers expecting to lose all their income has halved, and those expecting no change to their income has increased. Both countries are also reporting higher expectations to experience an increased income.

Income reduction: May vs August

UK further reducing leisure spend

Reduced incomes, closures to ‘non-essential services’, and a sense of uncertainty surrounding the future has seen consumers tweak their budgets to accommodate the circumstances. More clarity surrounding this situation over time has led UK consumers to further reduce their spend on entertainment, shopping and eating out.

In May, UK consumers had already reduced their shopping and eating out budget allocation in favour of increased savings and investments. Now, they have further reduced their spend in these categories, along with entertainment.

UK leisure spend: May vs August

USA restore leisure spend to pre-COVID amount

The USA have taken a different approach to UK consumers, with August results showing an increase to entertainment, shopping, and eating out budget allocation that mirrors pre-COVID spend. USA consumers increased their savings and investments more than the UK during the pandemic and this allocation has remained the same despite the leisure spend increase.

Consumers appear to justify this increase by lowering their spend on rent and transportation and bills in August. Initial decreases to grocery budget have stuck from May onwards.

USA leisure spend: May vs August

UK online shopping booms; USA not as excited

Retail businesses closures and general avoidance of public places saw an increase in online sales back in May, as consumers from both countries turned to online deliveries for food, groceries, and clothes. This momentum has kept up in the UK, with more consumers using online shopping for their purchases, especially clothes.

Conversely, USA consumers have not changed their online habits much since May and are even ordering less food via delivery services. Grocery and clothes orders have increased only slightly.

Online shopping: May vs August

Travel in next 12 months is unlikely

The start of the pandemic saw hasty border closures and tough regulations for those wishing to return home, meaning travel was off the table for most consumers over the next 12 months as recorded in May. A third of consumers from both the UK and USA stated that they would not consider travelling at all during this time.

These numbers have dramatically increased in both countries as close to half of UK consumers and over 50% of USA consumers would now not consider travelling over the next 12 months. Consumers travelling the same amount as pre-COVID have remained the most similar in numbers than those travelling less or travelling more.

Travel: May vs August

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