As we navigate new phases of our reopening, it is a good time to see where consumers in the Gulf South stand with concern about the COVID-19 pandemic. In this issue, we examine how the health crisis influences decisions on travel, leisure activities and how people are spending their time. In addition, we specifically broke down the information by state to get a further localized picture of how people in the Gulf South are feeling today and about the near future.

“As the year progresses toward the holidays, the initial shock and unknown factor of the pandemic has dwindled. However, people are still hesitant to fully re-engage in pre-COVID-19 activities,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner of The Ehrhardt Group. “Many people have newfound pastimes, have altered travel plans and some are not convinced things are getting better, despite the easing of restrictions.”

LEVEL OF CONCERN CHANGING

In the Gulf South, people in Alabama are the least concerned about the pandemic, while people in Louisiana and Mississippi are less optimistic, according to the latest Gulf South Index research.  Only 17% of respondents in Alabama said they were still extremely concerned and 38% think the health crisis is getting a little better. This compared to 26% of respondents in Louisiana and 29% in Mississippi, who think the situation is getting a little better.

When asked if they would go back to normal routines right now, over 50% of those in Alabama said they would, while those in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi were a little more hesitant, as they all came in at the low to mid 30% range of being ready to return to their normal activities.

What activity is still a dealbreaker today? Traveling abroad. This is something people are still highly unlikely to do at this time with more than 77% of those asked across the board saying they are not ready to cross the pond just yet.

“Consumers in the Gulf South may not be ready for international travel or even travel to a big city like New York or L.A., but they are willing to travel within driving distance,” said Bill Skelly, CEO of Causeway Solutions. “This creates an opportunity for local businesses to really focus their messaging to those drive-in markets.”

All in all, approximately 40% of those surveyed across the Gulf South say their life has been impacted a fair amount by the pandemic. More than half of the people surveyed across all four states think the pandemic will last the rest of the year and into 2021.

How are people in our region feeling regarding work life, crowded spaces and the economy? What new pastimes have emerged because of the pandemic? Also, are people in your community out and about for retail and recreation, visiting the beach or back in the office? We broke down how people are feeling and what they are up to in the Gulf South by state.

Click on the following links for state-specific consumer opinions and behaviors: 

Louisiana | Mississippi | Alabama | Florida 

NOT IN OUR BACKYARD

Across the country, 84% of U.S. adults say COVID-19 presents a severe or moderate risk nationally, 74% feel this way about their state specifically and 65% feel this way about the pandemic closer to home within their own community, according to research by Morning Consult.

These numbers have decreased since early April, when 93% of U. S. adults said COVID-19 was a health risk to the country, 89% said the same of their specific state and 74% felt it was a great risk to their own community.

HOW COMFORTABLE ARE CONSUMERS TODAY?

As of the beginning of October, the percentage of U.S. adults who said they’d feel comfortable going out to eat, going to a shopping mall and going to a museum within the next 30 days increased slightly. Yet, more than two in five U.S. adults said they won’t feel comfortable going to an amusement park, a concert or international travel until 2021, according to data from Morning Consult.

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?

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.

Causeway Solutions and The Ehrhardt Group conducted a series of online surveys, each of 1,384 adults with a margin of error of 2.5%.  The most recent survey was conducted on September 6-9, 2020.

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.