COVID-19 & Its Impact on Everyday Life: October 9-12, 2020

 In Business

With cases increasing across the country and a Presidential diagnosis, there was a significant increase this wave in the proportion of Americans who believe the pandemic is worsening.  43% of Americans now believe the pandemic trajectory is getting worse, compared to 37% two weeks ago.

84% of Americans are currently “concerned” about COVID-19, compared to 83% from two weeks ago. While the incidence of overall concern holds steady, the degree of concern is changing – 37% are more concerned than they were 2 weeks ago, vs. 15% who are less concerned.

There are several reasons for the increased degree of concern in recent weeks.  The leading causes are the increase in cases/hot spots (63%) and the onset of flu season (59%), while the change in season / getting colder (49%) and the President’s / his staff’s diagnosis (37%) are also often cited.

This elevated concern led to a decrease in the likelihood to consider in-person shopping at a number of store formats this week, including convenience stores and department stores. Americans’ dining considerations either held steady or slightly decreased this wave across all formats.

Understanding that behaviors typically change slowly, we asked about new behaviors experienced by consumers during the pandemic. Using virtual / telemedicine for medical visits is the most predominant new behavior as one in three Americans (32%) had a virtual medical appointment during the pandemic – with 82% of these appointments being their first experience with the format.  Curbside pickup (restaurant, retail, grocery), attending virtual events, and virtual fitness classes were also new experiences for more than one-half of Americans who participated in these activities during the pandemic.

Russell Research has interviewed over 22,000 Americans over the past 6 months about their coronavirus concerns and its impact on everyday behavior. Our COVID-19 Monitor will continue to evolve in the coming waves as the situation changes.

Please note the study is moving to a monthly cadence. The next wave is slated for November 6 – 9, 2020, immediately after the Presidential Election.

Below are our key findings from October 9-12, 2020. Russell Research has tabulated data available for all 22,000+ interviews with several additional questions asked in the survey.  Please email info@russellresearch.com for more information.

Views of the Current Situation

Concern about COVID-19 remains prevalent across the country. Between October 9-12, 84% of Americans indicated they are concerned about coronavirus, compared to 82% from two weeks earlier.

Perceptions of the pandemic trajectory are once again trending negative. 43% of Americans currently believe that the situation is getting worse, up from 37% two weeks ago.

This increase was offset by a decline in the percentage of Americans who believe the trajectory is staying the same (24% vs. 29% two weeks ago). There has generally been no change in the percentage who view it as getting better (33% vs. 34% two weeks ago).

Americans are paying close attention to the pandemic through the media. 81% of Americans paid attention to the pandemic via media sources over the past week either very or somewhat closely.

Comparatively, more than one-quarter of Americans (27%) indicate that they’re paying more attention to the pandemic compared to one month ago, versus 15% who are paying less attention.

Recent Events

More than one in three Americans are more concerned with COVID-19 compared to two weeks ago. Rising cases and the time of year are driving this increased concern.

  • 37% of Americans indicate they are more concerned about the pandemic compared to 2 weeks ago, versus 15% who indicate they are less concerned.
  • Among the 37% who are more concerned:
    • 63% indicate it is because of the increase in cases / new “hot spots”
    • 59% indicate it is because of the onset of flu season
    • 49% indicate it is because of the change in season / getting colder
    • 37% indicate it is because of the diagnosis of the President and his staff
    • 30% indicate it is because of potential delays in a vaccine being available
    • 24% indicate it is because they know someone who was recently diagnosed

Pandemic Behavior Change

Many behaviors undertaken during the pandemic were new experiences for consumers.

  • 35% of Americans used curbside pickup at a restaurant during the pandemic. 56% of these Americans did so for the first time (19% of all Americans).
  • 32% of Americans indicate they had a virtual medical/telemedicine appointment during the pandemic. 82% of these Americans did so for the first time (26% of all Americans).
  • 32% of Americans indicate they had contactless food delivery at home during the pandemic. 57% of these Americans did so for the first time (18% of all Americans).
  • 29% of Americans attended a virtual event such as a conference or meeting during the pandemic. 53% of these Americans did so for the first time (15% of all Americans).
  • 27% of Americans used curbside pickup at a grocery store during the pandemic. 59% of these Americans did so for the first time (16% of all Americans).
  • 23% of Americans used curbside pickup at a retailer during the pandemic. 53% of these Americans did so for the first time (12% of all Americans).
  • 12% of Americans took an online or virtual fitness class/instruction during the pandemic. 55% of these Americans did so for the first time (7% of all Americans).

Impact on Behavior

As the pandemic worsens, there have been decreases for in-person shopping consideration of nearly all essential item destinations.

Essential Item Destinations

  • 81% of grocery shoppers intend to shop at a grocery store in the next month (-2 percentage points vs. two weeks ago)
  • 68% of category shoppers intend to shop at a mass merchandiser in the next month (no change)
  • 60% 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 convenience store in the next month (-8)
  • 53% of category shoppers intend to shop at a dollar store in the next month (-5)
  • 46% of category shoppers intend to shop at a warehouse store in the next month (-2)

Consideration of in-person dining has held mostly steady across all formats.

Food & Drink

  • 49% of category users intend to dine at a fast food restaurant in the next month (no change vs. two weeks ago)
  • 41% of category users intend to dine at a fast casual restaurant in the next month (no change)
  • 32% of category users intend to dine at a casual dining restaurant in the next month (-4)
  • 33% of category users intend to go to a coffee shop or café in the next month (+2)
  • 27% of category users intend to dine at a fine dining restaurant in the next month (+3)

There has been a significant decrease in shopping consideration at department stores and directional decreases for home goods and home improvement stores.

Clothing & Specialty Retail

  • 44% of category shoppers intend to shop at a home improvement store in the next month (-5 vs. two weeks ago)
  • 40% of category shoppers intend to shop at a clothing store in the next month (+1)
  • 39% of category shoppers intend to shop at a pet store in the next month (+3)
  • 35% of category shoppers intend to shop at a department store in the next month (-7)
  • 29% of category shoppers intend to shop at an auto parts store in the next month (-3)
  • 27% of category shoppers intend to shop at an electronics store in the next month (-4)
  • 26% of category shoppers intend to shop at a shoe store in the next month (-1)
  • 23% of category shoppers intend to shop at a home goods store in the next month (-5)
  • 22% of category shoppers intend to shop at a sporting goods or outdoors store in the next month (-2)
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