Existential fear outweighs economic anxiety for most consumers, as governments, companies and workers continue to grapple with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
PYMNTS’ latest consumer poll, fielded on April 11, sampled more than 8,000 U.S. consumers about their thoughts on what life will look like after the pandemic is declared over and the real work of rebuilding entire economies begins. PYMNTS’ polling for the series began on March 17.
What is clear from the newest poll is that people are more concerned about dying than they are about anything else, including money. “This shift is also perhaps understandable, as more than 25 percent of the consumers we studied reported personally knowing someone who has tested positive — an increase of 16.8 percent from the 7.7 percent on March 17,” the latest coverage shows, “meaning that the number of people in this group has more than tripled in the last month, and as the death toll in the U.S. continues to rise as more hotspots hit their peaks.”
Life Is Going to Change
Questioning “when things will return to normal” has become moot, as many respondents don’t expect things to just fall back into place. The public outcry for a vaccine has grown since PYMNTS’ polling began in March, with nearly half of April 11 respondents saying that’s what it will take to feel safe again. That latest finding is almost nine points higher than the March 27 response.
Outlasting the pandemic in the absence of a vaccine has people on edge, clearly, with over one in five respondents to the April 11 survey seeing the pandemic lasting roughly six months. A very slightly higher number (21.6 percent) see it ending within approximately three months.
Of all changes observed, the mass migration to digital shopping is perhaps the most resonant. “Online shopping for groceries increased nearly four-fold – from 4 percent of the 87.4 percent of consumers who buy groceries as of March 6 to 15 percent on April 11. Of those who shopped online, 61.1 percent had groceries delivered or picked them up curbside,” according to the latest polling. “Online shopping for non-grocery items tripled – from 12 percent of the 77.6 percent of consumers who once shopped in physical stores to 36 percent on April 11.”
From shopping to dining out, just 48 percent of consumers expect life to return to a pre-pandemic sense of normal. An eye-opening finding is this: “16 percent say they won’t resume normal activities outside of the home after the crisis ends,” according to the new figures. “This means 121 million American adults will not resume their activities in the same way they did before the COVID-19 outbreak. At least that’s how they feel now.”