Consumers More Upbeat About COVID Recovery

Survey finds more people are ready to get out and shop in-store.

April 21, 2021

Customers Shopping with Masks on

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The number of U.S. consumers who are ready to pursue normal activity is increasing, reports Chain Store Age.

According to a Nielsen consumer sentiment survey, consumers expect to do less in-store pickup and curbside pickup, as well as order less from local stores for home delivery in the next year. The survey also found that nearly three in 10 consumers expect to do more in-store shopping in the months ahead compared with the 11% who expect to do less. These responses suggest that fewer restrictions are likely to spark a return to more normal local shopping habits, the global research company said.

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. In the March 2021 survey, the Ready to Go segment peaked at 61%, compared with 34% in April 2020, while the more cautious group of Wait and See consumers dropped to 9% in March compared with 29% a year ago.

According to the research, heavy radio listeners are also more likely to make big-ticket purchases within a year. Eighteen percent are 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 12 months, as compared to other adult respondents. 

“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 study findings include:

  • Shopping: Nearly eight in 10 respondents are now getting items delivered that they ordered online compared with seven in 10 before the pandemic.  
  • 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 public transportation less during the pandemic, but the number spending an hour or more in vehicles every day is up 150% since April.
  • 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 the vaccine when eligible. These consumers are more likely to be male and tend to be older. About one in four (26%) are not sure about getting the vaccine, while one in five do not intend to get vaccinated. Those who are uncertain or don’t plan to get the vaccine tend to be female, younger and Hispanic.

More consumers are now receiving their purchases in new ways such as having items they bought in-store delivered to their homes (38%), using curbside pickup (35%) and using in-store pickup (38%). The survey conducted by Nielsen was administered to 1,009 U.S. adults 18+ in March. Nielsen uses the online survey to gauge the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on consumer attitudes. Similar surveys were conducted by the group in April, May, June and October 2020. 

To learn more about how online shopping has been impacted by COVID-19, read “Online Grocery Shopping Continues to Surge” in NACS Daily.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page