In Deloitte’s latest read on consumer sentiment, the firm found that “elevated health concerns” relating to the COVID-19 outbreak have subsided while financial woes “still linger.”
Authors of the report noted that as of mid-May, “less than half of U.S. consumers (48 percent) are concerned about their personal health, down from 57 percent measured during the peak in early April,” and added that 60 percent are “concerned about the health of others, down from a high of 72 percent.”
In regard to financial concerns, Deloitte found these are not subsiding “with 27 percent of consumers concerned about making upcoming payments and 43 percent delaying large purchases.” The reported found that the immediate fiscal woes “continue to spike among Millennials, with 36 percent of 18- to 35-year-olds concerned about making upcoming payments.”
They also found that fear over potential job losses “remains steady” with 37 percent of U.S. consumers polled concerned about losing their employment. In its analysis of the results, Deloitte said it is responding to these trends with more surveys. They said as the global health crisis “potentially morphs into an economic one,” it is conducting “a series of biweekly surveys around the globe to better understand the interplay between personal safety and economic vulnerability as a driver of purchase decisions and consumer behavior.”
Seema Pajula, vice chairman of U.S. industries and insights leader for the U.S. consumer industry at Deloitte, said in regard to consumer sentiment and behavior, “we are observing some early positive signals across the world, which should help give confidence to business leaders as they transition from responding to this crisis to rebooting their recovery.”
“While the next few months will be full of challenges, consumers are demonstrating that they are eager to return to some semblance of normal life — even if cautiously,” Pajula added. “This sentiment can provide a solid foundation for business recovery.”
Globally, the authors of the report said the “collective net anxiety and health concerns have also begun to ease slightly since mid-April,” but financial concerns also continue to linger. “Some countries like India, which have seen COVID-19 hit later than other countries, continue to show higher levels of anxiety, while countries that have relaxed stay-at-home orders more widely have seen anxiety lessen,” Deloitte said in the report.
The report found that health concerns remain highest in China and India — two of the world’s most highly populated countries. And globally, the report said on average, across all regions and countries, “40 percent of respondents who still had a job were concerned about losing their jobs.”
The authors of the report also said that consumer behavior, “including what consumers plan to buy, how they intend to buy it and why, continues to evolve within today’s dynamic environment.” The firm said across business segments and categories “such as retail; travel and hospitality; automotive and others; significant shifts in sentiment and spending intentions are observable since the COVID-19 peak in April.”
Stephen Rogers, executive director of Deloitte Insights Consumer Industry Center, said as companies “look to fine-tune their reopening strategies, it is critical to monitor how health and economic challenges are simultaneously impacting the consumer’s purchase decisions.”
“Recovery strategies must balance consumers’ need to feel safe and have consistent experiences with long-term revenue strategies capable of mitigating an extended period of softened demand,” Rogers added.