As the nation and Gulf South enter Phase 1 of community reopening, we examine changing purchasing trends and the attitudes and decision-making processes of people in our region.

While people are ready to move on and get back to a more “routine” life, 68% of Americans are concerned that state governments are lifting COVID-19 restrictions too quickly, whereas 31% feel states will not lift restrictions quickly enough, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted April 29-May 5.

30% of U.S. adults say the coronavirus outbreak is a severe health risk in their community, down 11 points from early April, according to new May 1-3 data from Morning Consult’s weekly coronavirus survey tracker.

Regardless of the timing and feelings towards health risks, what is clear is that people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of venturing out into public spaces again. People are tired of being at home and are ready to go about their routines again. As case numbers stabilize, confidence among consumers is cautiously increasing.

UNCERTAINTY IS ON THE DECLINE

Since the beginning of April, Morning Consult has polled consumers on their level comfort with going back into establishments such as restaurants, malls and movie theaters. The segment of people in the latest poll, conducted May 5-8, who said they weren’t sure about when they’d feel comfortable visiting these types of venues has decreased since the question was first asked last month.

While some people are ready to get back to dining out, shopping and taking in a matinee, many realize it will be some time before they will feel comfortable returning to a full pre-COVID-19 lifestyle. The number of respondents who said it would take at least six months for them to feel comfortable at a concert, an amusement park or a movie theater, for example, all increased.

The important takeaways from this data are that 22% of consumers said they’d feel comfortable dining out at a restaurant within the next month — a considerable increase from the just 9% who said the same thing a month ago. The number of people willing to go to a shopping mall also jumped from 7% to 18%.

WHEN WILL LIFE RETURN TO NORMAL?

22% of people believe it could take over a year before life returns to “normal,” compared to 11% just a month prior, according to a Resonate COVID-19 Connected Flash Study conducted in April.

Other items of interest include:

  • 55% believe the United States economy will return to “normal,” as it was before the coronavirus situation began sometime in 2021 or later.
  • Consumers are starting to feel more comfortable now than they did in March with making major purchases, including homes.
  • More than 50% expect leisure travel activities will largely return to “normal” by the end of this year.

NEWS CONSUMPTION ON THE RISE

A recent Flixed survey revealed that people are consuming more news during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, as we begin the phased reopening process, viewers have reached a point where they are ready to watch and read about something other than COVID-19, according to new data from GCI Health and the Harris Poll. Their research found that 93% of people are interested in non-coronavirus-related content and 40% want to see stories of hope and inspiration. 66% feel overwhelmed by news coverage of the pandemic and 52% report having trouble finding information on health conditions other than COVID-19.

A CHANGE IN FREQUENCY

Spending more time at home has naturally brought about an increase in certain activities. It remains to be seen if these activities will continue once we embark on the reopening phases.

NEW FAVORITE BRANDS HAVE EMERGED

There are some changing attitudes towards brand consumption as our favorite brands may be unavailable during the health crisis and we are forced out of our comfort zone and into trying something new.

 

HEALTHY FOOD IS HERE TO STAY

In line with trying new things, 35% of consumers are spending more on new healthy food items and expect to continue buying these new items once the pandemic has ended.

However, it should be noted that not everyone is on the health food kick. During stay-at-home orders, people are eating more pizza and chicken wings, boosting sales at Papa John’s and Wingstop. 43% of respondents to a recent survey by Business Insider said that they had increased their use of pizza delivery and Wingstop reported same-store sales were up by more than 30% in April.

LET’S PLAY BALL!

30% of sports fans want professional and college sports to resume as soon as possible, up from 16% earlier in April, while 53% of sports fans would prefer leagues wait until it is safe for fans to return to resume play, down from 70%.

THE GULF SOUTH INDEX

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. When the rest of the country may be zigging, we want to know if the Gulf South will zag and why, sharing that insight with you.

See anything interesting here? Feel free to share with your friends and colleagues.

Want to know more about the findings from today? Contact us at info@tegpr.com.

HOW DID WE FIND THIS STUFF OUT?

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.

Have questions or comments for the Gulf South Index team, contact us at info@tegpr.com.