Survey Shows Americans Changed Behavior Fast in Face of Covid-19 Threat

March 16, 2020 (Viz Release) Boston — The wisdom of ordinary Americans outpaced that of U.S. government health officials, with a new survey by revealing that people nationwide cancelled air travel, abandoned gatherings, and snapped up cleaning supplies well before a national health emergency was declared on March 13.

These are among notable findings from PYMNTS research conducted in the first week of March, when anxiety began to spike worldwide. With a ‘calm before the storm’ sense gripping the world now, respondents to the PYMNTS study won’t travel again until the CDC declares the virus under control (65 percent), or until a vaccine is made available (63 percent). Over 85 percent of consumers are ‘slightly’ to ‘very’ worried about contracting the bug, contributing to a 34 percent drop in restaurant dining­—almost identical (33 percent) among fast-casual and QSR respondents.

PYMNTS put the first in a series of surveys to gauge the full impact of COVID-19 on American life into the field on Friday March 6. The census-balanced panel of nearly 2,200 U.S. consumers reacted to questions around five foundational activities of the connected economy: how people shop, work, spend their leisure time, travel and eat. What it reveals are intriguing gaps between consumer sentiment and behavior.

Key results for the benchmark March 6 survey include the following:

·      Men and women are equally concerned about their risks of contracting the virus, but women were more likely to change their day-to-day routines.

·      Higher-earning 30- to 40-year-old ‘bridge millennials’ were the most concerned of all demographic groups – in fact, nearly 30 percent more so than their boomer parents and senior grandparents.

·      Higher-income individuals shopped more online, while those earning less than $50,000 a year reduced shopping of all kinds sharply.

·      All consumers reported eating out less, particularly at restaurants with table service, and said they used delivery aggregators, bought prepared foods at grocery stores and used mobile order-ahead less than they did before.

·      Before March Madness was canceled and sports teams began shutting down live events, consumers had put social distance between themselves and others.

·      Consumers decided not to get on planes, especially to hotspots like New York or any international destination for work or pleasure.

·      Booking vacation rentals and B&Bs also fell, as did ride sharing and use of public transportation.



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