COVID-19 & Its Impact on Everyday Life: August 28-31, 2020

 In Business

The perceived trajectory of the pandemic significantly improved during the 19th wave of the Russell COVID-19 Monitor. This leaves America split, with a near equal percentage of the country believing the pandemic is getting worse (35% vs. 48% two weeks ago), staying the same (32% vs. 22%) and getting better (33% vs. 30%).

This wave also showed the first signs of reduced concern across the country. 82% of Americans are currently “concerned” about COVID-19, compared to 86% two weeks ago, which represents the lowest percentage since mid-March.

The positive movement was reflected in planned in-person dining behavior, which showed increased consideration of all dining formats.  However there is still a long way to go with more than half of users in each dining category reporting they will remain on the sidelines.

We had a special focus on planned and executed self-improvement activities during the pandemic. The most common self-improvement activities are physical (exercise, diet) and educational (reading, online courses, cooking). Further, one in seven adults set a goal to start a side hustle or other secondary type of income-generating activity. These changes have proven difficult for most, with less than half of adults who started these activities indicating they followed through on their goals very well.

This has and will present opportunities for brands across a number of categories.  With more than seven in ten Americans planning to continue or start these activities in the fall, how can brands create user experiences that encourage and maintain these activities?

Russell Research has interviewed over 19,000 Americans over the past 5 months about their coronavirus concerns and its impact on everyday behavior. Our COVID-19 Monitor will continue to evolve in the coming weeks as the situation changes. The study currently fields every other week with the next wave slated for September 11 – 14, 2020.

Below are our key findings from August 28 – 31, 2020. Russell Research has tabulated data available for all 19,000+ interviews with several additional questions asked in the survey.  Please email info@russellresearch.com for more information.

Views of the Current Situation

Concern with COVID-19 is widespread though on the decline. Between August 28-31, 82% of Americans indicated they are concerned about coronavirus, a significant decrease compared to the 86% level of concern two weeks earlier.

Fewer Americans believe the pandemic is worsening. 35% of Americans now believe the situation is getting worse, compared to 48% two weeks ago.

A near equal percentage believe the trajectory is staying the same (32% vs. 22% two weeks ago) and getting better (33% vs. 30% two weeks ago).

Consumers are more likely to shop in-person at all essential item destinations over the next month.

Essential Item Destinations

  • 80% of grocery shoppers intend to shop at a grocery store in the next month (+1 percentage point vs. two weeks ago)
  • 67% of category shoppers intend to shop at a mass merchandiser in the next month (+6)
  • 61% of category shoppers intend to shop at a pharmacy or drug store in the next month (+3)
  • 51% of category shoppers intend to shop at a dollar store in the next month (+3)
  • 46% of category shoppers intend to shop at a warehouse store in the next month (+2)

The perceived improvement of the pandemic trajectory has resulted in more consumers being open to dining in-person at all restaurant formats.

Food & Drink

  • 46% of category users intend to dine at a fast food restaurant in the next month (+3 vs. two weeks ago)
  • 39% of category users intend to dine at a fast casual restaurant in the next month (+5)
  • 34% of category users intend to go to a coffee shop or café in the next month (+5)
  • 32% of category users intend to dine at a casual dining restaurant in the next month (+4)
  • 22% of category users intend to dine at a fine dining restaurant in the next month (+3)

Specialty retail has not yet seen large-scale improvement for in-person shopping consideration.

Clothing & Specialty Retail

  • 46% of category shoppers intend to shop at a home improvement store in the next month (+2 percentage points vs. two weeks ago)
  • 36% of category shoppers intend to shop at a department store in the next month (+3)
  • 34% of category shoppers intend to shop at a clothing store in the next month (-1)
  • 31% of category shoppers intend to shop at a pet store in the next month (no change)
  • 29% of category shoppers intend to shop at an electronics store in the next month (+5)
  • 28% of category shoppers intend to shop at an auto parts store in the next month (no change)
  • 24% of category shoppers intend to shop at a shoe store in the next month (-3)
  • 26% of category shoppers intend to shop at a sporting goods or outdoors store in the next month (+2)
  • 24% of category shoppers intend to shop at a home goods store in the next month (+1)

Pandemic Self-Improvement

More than seven in ten Americans set one or more self-improvement goals during the pandemic. There are similar goals for this fall.

  • Overall, 71% of Americans set a goal during the quarantine and 74% of Americans plan to set a goal for this fall.

 

  • 36% of Americans set a goal to exercise more often during the pandemic and 43% plan to exercise more often this fall.
  • 33% of Americans set a goal to read more often during the pandemic and 30% plan to read more often this fall.
  • 28% of Americans set a goal to improve their diet during the pandemic and 31% plan to improve it this fall.
  • 24% of Americans set a goal to improve their ability to cook during the pandemic and 22% plan to improve their ability this fall.
  • 20% of Americans set a goal to do a home improvement project during the pandemic and 20% plan to do a project this fall.
  • 14% of Americans set a goal to start a side hustle or additional form of income during the pandemic and 14% plan to start one this fall.
  • 12% of Americans set a goal to take an online course during the pandemic and 13% plan to take one this fall.

Dieting and starting side hustles have been the most difficult for Americans to do well.

  • 51% of Americans who planned to read more often during the pandemic indicate they followed through very well with this goal.
  • 47% of Americans who planned to improve their ability to cook indicate they followed through very well.
  • 47% of Americans who planned to exercise more often indicate they followed through very well.
  • 46% of Americans who planned to do a home improvement project indicate they followed through very well.
  • 45% of Americans who planned to take an online course indicate they followed through very well.
  • 33% of Americans who planned to improve their diet indicate they followed through very well.
  • 32% of Americans who planned to start a side hustle or additional form of income indicate they followed through very well.
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