As a global health crisis has morphed into an economic one, Deloitte is conducting a series of monthly surveys to better understand the interplay between personal safety and economic vulnerability as a driver of purchase decisions and consumer behavior. The most recent iteration of “Deloitte’s Global State of the Consumer Tracker,” conducted in 18 countries from Oct. 29 – Nov. 5, queried at least 1,000 consumers in each country. The responses provide insight into how consumers across the globe intend to weather this dual crisis.
While consumer safety perceptions are slowly improving, financial stress continues to be an increasing area of concern for consumers in the U.S. as the last round of economic relief has expired. According to the tracker, 29 percent of U.S. respondents noted they were struggling to make upcoming payments. On the plus side, sentiment more than doubled from 30 percent to 61 percent for consumers who say they feel safe visiting a store between April and November.
“As we saw earlier this year, health concerns and spending are closely intertwined,” said Stephen Rogers, executive director, Deloitte Insights Consumer Industry Center, Deloitte. “Consumers are beginning to feel more comfortable with resuming some activities of pre-pandemic life despite a third wave rising in the U.S. With the expiration of stimulus funding and continued unemployment levels, financial concerns are on the rise. Overall discretionary consumer spending is also likely to be restrained. Increasingly, the average consumer will be looking to contactless commerce, convenience and bargains throughout the remainder of 2020.”
The Effect on Travel
With the holidays just around the corner, perceptions of travel safety showed improvement, particularly around hospitality and air travel. Contrary to data that shows consumers continuing to deprioritize non-essential spending, leisure travel seems to be an exception.
Demand for leisure travel over the next three months is picking up in advance of the holiday season. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) now plan on taking a domestic flight, 21 percent plan on renting a car, and 13 percent plan on taking an international flight.
One-third (33 percent) of U.S. respondents said they would feel safe flying again, regardless of the destination—up from 23 percent on April 9.
Forty-five percent of U.S. travelers report feeling safe staying in a hotel, a pandemic high, up from 19 percent on April 9.
Of those respondents not planning to stay in a hotel for leisure within the next three months, 15 percent think hotels are not doing enough to make them feel comfortable staying overnight.
In fact, 29 percent of respondents report they are planning to put off vacation plans until the pandemic situation improves.
Financial constraints are still hindering leisure travel, with 17 percent of respondents reporting that the pandemic has made travel difficult to afford.
“As we look at a recovery, there are signs of pent up demand, and it’s important that consumers continue to feel safe if we are to return to a semblance of normalcy,” said Anthony Waelter, U.S. consumer industry leader and partner in the advisory practice of Deloitte & Touche.