COVID-19 Consumer Survey: October


Posted on 17 November 2020 Edward Teh, Jason Widjaja, & Catherine Chipeta


In our October omnibus survey, we compare consumer trends during the COVID-19 pandemic against May and August 2020 results. We surveyed consumers from The Netherlands in this round to gain a different perspective. We also explored Alcohol consumption and Diet & Exercise.

From August to October, consumers have experienced a change in mood towards the pandemic which closely resembles their feelings in May. Overall, UK and USA consumers are in different positions financially, which is further reflected by their online shopping habits. Some consumers are continuing to make adjustments to their lifestyles, driven by the changes to everyday living.

Here are the biggest trends and changes we have identified in October:

Sense of unease returning

Prolonged lockdowns, a continuing sense of unknowing, and no clear indication of when pre-COVID lifestyles will return appears to be affecting consumers negatively once again.

Consumers from both the UK and USA are beginning to feel higher levels of discomfort during this pandemic, compared to a drop in worry, frustration, and anxiety between May and August 2020. UK consumers are now feeling more worried and US consumers are feeling more anxious and frustrated.

Consumer mood during COVID-19

USA expecting more income reductions

With job furloughs, redundancies, and lay-offs affecting many UK and US consumers between May and August, different patterns have formed across the two countries.

From May to October, the UK has seen a steady rise in consumers expecting no change to income and a drop in those expecting a reduction. Conversely, the USA has seen an increase in consumers expecting a reduction and a decrease in those expecting no change to income.

Consumer income during COVID-19

Online shopping continues to boom

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.

The August survey showed that whilst UK consumers increasing their online shopping (notably for clothing), US consumers were not as excited. In October, UK consumers continued to spend more on clothes online, whilst the USA consumers were also buying more clothes online and increasing their food delivery habits after a drop in August.

Consumer online shopping during COVID-19

More budget allocated to rent

COVID-19 has affected the way UK and USA consumers are allocating their budgets, with areas such as entertainment, shopping, and savings/investments seeing increases and reductions to adjust to factors such as income changes, lockdowns, and crisis aversion.

In terms of rent, UK consumers saw no change in their allocation from pre-COVID times to May to August 2020. USA consumers, however, saw a slight reduction in their rent allocation between May and August 2020. Both UK and USA consumers are expecting to spend more on rent than in May and August 2020, with slight increases in allocation across both countries.

Consumer rent allocation during COVID-19

Boredom driving consumers to snack more

With most consumers staying home more now due to lockdowns and general avoidance of public places, staying occupied and entertained is harder than pre-COVID life.

The May and August 2020 surveys showed that watching new TV shows, talking with friends and family, and listening to music among other activities, is helping UK and US consumers pass the time. October results now also reveal that being at home has caused some consumers from the UK, USA, and Netherlands to snack more due to boredom.

Consumer snacking during COVID-19

Alcohol consumption affected by COVID-19

Lockdowns, isolation, and financial reasons have unsurprisingly had some effect on the alcohol consumption habits of consumers across the UK, USA, and Netherlands.

Overall alcohol consumption habits for those who drink have remained vastly the same as pre-COVID. However, some are now drinking less due to closure of public venues, inability to drink with friends/family, financial, or health reasons. Those who are drinking more, put this down to boredom, depression, stress relief, and entertainment.

Consumer alcohol consumption during COVID-19

Download a copy of COVID-19 Consumer Survey: October survey results

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