Consumers see coronavirus measures lasting beyond April, but say they feel supported by key institutions: Toluna and Harris Interactive Coronavirus Barometer

LUCIA JULIANO, HEAD OF CGP AND RETAIL RESEARCH, HARRIS INTERACTIVE

Toluna and Harris Interactive have executed the inaugural Coronavirus Barometer, surveying almost 2400 consumers in the U.S. and UK between 25-27 March on how they are coping during the global pandemic. We will update you every two weeks as perceptions change.

The global Coronavirus pandemic has led to shelter-in-place and social-distancing rules in the U.S. and UK for much of the month of March and all of April. It is a challenging time for almost everyone. We are worried about our health and well-being of loved ones, financial security and the ability to get essential supplies, making the situation even harder for most people.

Two things are clear from our first Coronavirus Barometer: Consumers expect that these rules will be in place for a while to come – in most cases, much longer than the current timelines which run through the end of April. Consumers feel supported by heath care providers, employers and retailers.

How Long Will This Last?

Despite restrictions, just over a quarter of Americans say they are comfortable booking an event or a vacation to take place this Spring (through 31 May). Another quarter feel confident booking an event (28 percent) or vacation (24 percent) for the Summer (1 June – 31 August). By Autumn only 15 percent feel confident enough to book an event and only 16 percent would book a vacation. Fewer than 10 percent say they feel confident planning either for the winter, and about a quarter say the date is further out.

In the UK, consumers are more cautious, with only 14 percent saying they would book an event for the Spring and only 11 percent would book a holiday. About a third of UK respondents would not feel comfortable booking either even after the Autumn and Winter of 2020.

Consumers Feel Supported

Across the board, consumers feel supported by the major institutions that shape their lives. This includes healthcare services, retailers and governments, among others.

Consumers in the U.S. and UK rate the healthcare services as the most supportive of all organizations. Rating their support at a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1-10, a whopping 45 percent of U.S. respondents and 57 percent of UK respondents said they felt extremely supported by their healthcare services. Healthcare professionals, who risk their lives daily, are clearly heroes in the eyes of our respondents.

For most of us, the only place we go is to buy groceries or to pick up prescriptions. Retailers in both countries are seen as being extremely supportive, second only to healthcare. Most respondents, 58 percent in the US and 52 percent in the UK, say retailers rank 8-10 on a scale of 1-10.

About two-thirds (66 percent) of UK respondents said their national government is supportive, while a solid majority (61 percent) of US respondents agreed. In both countries, governments have passed extraordinary measures to assist consumers with cash payouts and extension of unemployment benefits.

Employers, many of whom are experiencing extreme distress in terms of record drop-offs in business, are viewed as supportive in the U.S., although this is not the case in the UK. In the US, 54 percent of respondents say employers rate at least a 7 out of 10 for support, while only 42 percent of UK respondents would rank their employers so positively.

Shifting Emotions

In such challenging times, we expect people’s sentiments could change rapidly and we want to be here for our clients and our community. Given how fast things changed for most people, we expect attitudes and sentiments towards the situation to change rapidly. We will be there to report on it.

First and foremost, we are grateful to the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect our health or to bring us essential supplies. Our governments and employers are seen as supportive as they are dealing with unprecedented change.

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