Good news for stores: Consumer sentiment about COVID-19 recovery improving

Marianne Wilson
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shoppers walking

The number of consumers who are ready to pursue normal activity is on the rise.

Consumers expect to do less in-store pick up, less curbside pickup, and less home delivery from local stores in the next year, according to a Nielsen consumer sentiment survey. The findings suggests that fewer restrictions are likely to spark a return to more normal local shopping habits, Nielsen said.  

In related findings, nearly three in 10 consumers expect to do more in-store shopping in the months ahead compared with the 11% who expect to do that less.   

The survey looked at three segments reflecting consumer attitudes about the pandemic. People who are “Ready to Go,” those who “Proceed with Caution” and consumers who “Wait and See” when it comes to resuming normal behavior. The Ready to Go segment peaked at 61% in the March 2021 survey compared with 34% in April 2020. 

The more pessimistic group of Wait and See consumers dropped to 9% in March 2021 compared with 29% a year ago.  

The study also showed that heavy radio listeners are more likely to make big-ticket purchases within a year. Heavy radio listeners are 18% more likely to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle in the next year, and 64% are more likely to buy a house in the next twelve months, compared to total adults. 

“As Americans continue to navigate the pandemic, the future looks promising,” said Brad Kelly, managing director, Nielsen Audio. “Consumers are becoming more optimistic and resuming more normal activities, especially heavy radio listeners. AM/FM listeners are more likely to be out and about and spending more time in their vehicles.” 

Other findings from the study are below.

  • Vaccines: More than half (52%) have either gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, have an appointment to get vaccinated, or have registered to get it when eligible. These consumers are more likely to be male and tend to be olderOne in four (26%) are uncertain about getting the vaccine and one in five do not intend to get vaccinated. Those who are uncertain or don’t plan to get the vaccine tend to be younger, female and Hispanic.
  • Employment: Among the employed, two-thirds now work outside the home, up nearly 70% since April. Workers at home due to COVID-19 declined by more than half since April 2020.
  • Transportation: All groups are using less public transportation due to COVID-19.  Those spending an hour or more in vehicles is up 150% since April, and heavy radio listeners are more likely to spend an hour or more in the car. 
  •   Shopping:  Nearly eight in 10 are now getting items delivered that they ordered online compared with seven in 10 before the pandemic.  

More are now getting things they buy in new ways such as having items they bought in a store delivered to their home (38%), as well as in-store (38%) and curbside pick up (35%), compared with those who did so prior to the pandemic (15%, 27%, and 22% respectively).

Nielsen conducted an online survey to gauge the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. The survey was administered online among a weighted sample of 1,009 adults 18+ in the U.S. between March 11-15th, 2021. Nielsen conducted similar surveys in April, May, June, and October 2020.