GULF SOUTH INDEX: Covid-fatigue, misinformation weighing on consumers in 2022
January 18, 2022
As 2022 gets underway, we are approaching two years of navigating a global health pandemic. Just when we thought things were returning to a familiar rhythm of what we remember as normalcy and we were gearing up for a joyous holiday season, Omicron emerged with a vengeance.
A majority of Americans say they feel “worn out” by how the pandemic has impacted their daily lives, and nearly 50% feel “angry” about it, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll.
Consumer frustration is also having an impact on how people view the government’s handling of the pandemic. Support for masking and vaccine mandates have declined since the fall when the Delta variant spread across the country.
“INFODEMIC” FUELING PANDEMIC FATIGUE
A contributing factor to the covid-fatigue many people are feeling is the massive spread of misinformation surrounding the pandemic. The spread of mis- and disinformation has developed into a significant phenomenon throughout the health crisis.
“With the rapid rise of disinformation that we face from all angles daily, we turn to our tribe…the people who live on our street and in our towns … to get the latest information and opinions,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president of The Ehrhardt Group. “Where are our neighbors, friends and family members getting their news? How do our ‘go-to’ sources for information affect our decisions regarding the pandemic?”
Misinformation is a real problem in the U.S. and around the globe. This problem didn’t start with the pandemic – it has been around for a long time. However, it is at the forefront of instilling doubts and the spreading of false information regarding the current health crisis. People are second-guessing their once trusted sources of information as the pool of news outlets widens and conflicting information is found at every corner.
There is great uncertainty in our communities today. We are bombarded with information through our devices and screens. COVID-related content is continuously being shared across digital platforms by news outlets (both traditional and emerging), government agencies, health officials and individuals. Our devices give us access to up-to-the-second data, much different than when our parents and grandparents had to wait for the evening news or the morning paper to get information and updates.
“We are in information overdrive and, as a result, in a constant state of ‘crisis mode’ as COVID-19 related content, news, statistics and insights are always at our fingertips,” said Ehrhardt. “This further drives the fatigue people are feeling regarding the pandemic.”
CONSUMERS ARE SPENDING
It seems consumers are growing comfortable with the ongoing pandemic. As the health crisis nears the two-year mark, peoplehave little patience for increased restrictions, especially after the brief reprieve last year when vaccines became widely available.
Even with a new variant surging around the globe, people are no longer holding back on things such as travel and making purchases like they did early in the pandemic.
In fact, according to economists, consumer spending is expected to remain robust in 2022, despite the Omicron variant and some of the highest inflation rates ever experienced by most Americans.
“The Covid fatigue is real,” said Economist Tim Quinlan. “And especially given the less deadly nature of this particular variant, I don’t see it causing this watershed change in consumer behavior.”
PANDEMIC-ERA CAREER CHANGES ABOUND
The pandemic has brought about un-precedented adjustments to how we go about our daily routines, how our children attend school and how we gather for both personal and professional purposes. We’ve also seen a great shift in the job market with 47% of people both in our region and nationwide changing careers since the onset of the pandemic, according to the Gulf South Index.
2021 was dubbed the year of the “great resignation” and people are on the move and making decisions regarding their work-life because of the ongoing health crisis. Some of these changes have come about out of necessity as a result of shutdowns, but many are also taking this time of uncertainty to take the leap into a new career. Staff shortages across an array of industry sectors have resulted in a job-seekers market and the jobs are there for the taking.
Covid-fatigue is at a high point and consumers are making plans, making purchases and making moves despite the relentlessness of the health crisis.
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HOW DID WE FIND THIS STUFF OUT?
The Gulf South Index is a cooperative project between The Ehrhardt Group, a public relations, content, issues and crisis firm, and Causeway Solutions, a nationally recognized research and data analysis company, that are both based in the Gulf South.
The Index delves into hundreds of thousands of data points to paint a better picture of how the millions of people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle are going about their lives. We want to find out more about how we make decisions, from what we are buying and how we are getting our news to where we plan to travel.
We cannot comment on the methodology of the surveys and research we did not conduct, which is why we do our best to link to the source articles or studies that we share here.