Since the beginning of the pandemic, consumer behaviors have been constantly moving and reshaping everything from priorities and preferences, to how consumers make spending decisions — some varying differently between countries, or even generationally.
To keep track of all changes across the globe, Deloitte has conducted monthly surveys, with the latest polling in 23 countries (at least 1,000 adult consumers provided responses per country) during the week of Dec. 23. With these survey responses, said the authors of the report, Deloitte aims to provide insight into how consumers are adapting to the next phase of the pandemic.
During the rise of COVID-19 cases amid the Omicron variant, global safety perceptions have fallen, according to Deloitte’s January 2022 State of the Consumer Tracker. However, unlike past waves seen in the pandemic, renewed concern for safety does not appear to show evidence of shaking consumer confidence.
“While safety perceptions have again declined amid a rise in Omicron cases, consumer confidence remains unshaken,” said Anthony Waelter, vice chair at Deloitte LLP and U.S. consumer industry leader. “Overall discretionary spending intentions among U.S. consumers remain steady. People have seen this movie before. And I think this speaks to a growing resilience to the pandemic’s ongoing ebb and flow.”
Still, for consumers around the world, the latest wave has had some impact on daily activity. Going to the store, traveling and restaurant dining, Deloitte’s report notes, were the most significantly impacted, with nearly a year of progress around improving safety perceptions taking a hit, or even completely erased.
Specifically in the U.S., however, Deloitte’s data points to a more muted response to the fall in safety perceptions. The most notable impact was found in the percentage of consumers who said they feel safe sending children to school, dropping from 40 percent in November to 33 percent in December.
And return-to-office progress also slowed in the U.S. with the percentage of U.S. employed adults who cited being able to work from home increasing slightly for the first time in four months from 51 percent in November to 54 percent in December. In comparison, data shows Americans spend more time working remotely compared to the rest of the world.
U.S. consumers who said they are replacing more in-person interaction with digital services increased from 21 percent to 26 percent. And with experience purchases on the decline, Deloitte’s data also found the percentage of U.S. consumers planning to fly domestically for leisure travel has fallen from 43 percent to 33 percent. And similarly, those planning to fly internationally dropped from 30 percent to 19 percent.
At the same time, this period has seen U.S. consumers reporting they are spending more on material things compared to experiences — going from 19 percent in September to 25 percent. Deloitte’s data suggests overall financial sentiment and discretionary spending intentions for the month ahead remain steady in the U.S.
“Consumers have been resilient, adapting behaviors to the pandemic as the number of cases continues to fluctuate,” said Stephen Rogers, executive director at Deloitte Insights Consumer Industry Center, Deloitte Services LP. “The pandemic continues to create uncertainty that is affecting how and when consumers travel, attend work and school, and generally interact with others. Yet, time and again, consumers have demonstrated the ability to be agile and flexible as we move into the next phase of this collective global experience.”
U.S. consumers reported they expect to spend an average of $4,800 per household over the upcoming month with a third of their budget slated for more discretionary categories including recreation and entertainment, restaurants, electronics and leisure travel. These findings, according to Deloitte, are consistent with findings from the past several months. Nearly 60 percent of Americans also reported they are remaining optimistic that financial situations will improve within the next three years.
FOR MORE WWD BUSINESS NEWS: