Schools are reopening, summer is coming to an end, and in our communities, we are seeing fewer and fewer cases of coronavirus as we appear to have passed through “Phase 2” of the pandemic.

So, what does this mean for the Gulf South?

It means consumers are more ready for things to open than they have been just weeks prior.

Extreme concern over the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. has dropped 5 points since July to just 37.5%, according to updated Gulf South Index research, conducted September 6-9, 2020.

“The first of September looks like a launching pad for moving to the next phase of reopening our communities,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner of The Ehrhardt Group. “Across the Gulf South, public and private schools reopened in the second half of August. Pre-COVID-19 routines emerged, along with greater feelings of normalcy. As we saw in July, there is building consumer demand for experiences we may have taken for granted when 2020 began, like eating out with family and friends. In early September, this demand is ready to turn into action.”

In July, half of consumers surveyed believed that things were getting a lot worse – today that number has almost been cut in half.  In fact, the plurality of consumers (28.3%) actually believe that things are getting a little better.

Overall, in July we saw just 24% of consumers ready to return to their normal routines. Today, that number has jumped to 34%.

Despite the desire to get back to our regular routines and the decreased concern about the situation, consumers still think disruptions will continue to last for the rest of the year or longer.

This reprieve, though, could provide a much-needed boost for small businesses and restaurants in our communities. In fact, 52% of consumers say they are now comfortable eating in a restaurant – up from 41% in July.

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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.



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