April 2020

Coronavirus Survey Results

The current environment is one of the most dynamic and volatile we have experienced.

Whether it’s employment, education, the basic function of eating, summer vacation plans – or all of the above – people’s lives have been upended in countless ways. We are socially distancing, wearing masks in public, and, to the extent possible, staying home. The impact the coronavirus will have on the economy is unlike anything we have ever seen.

In the past, when a hurricane or flood impacts one part of our state, people from other areas of the state – or even the country – race in to help. The coronavirus outbreak is affecting everyone, everywhere. The solution is not clear and every path forward is fraught with potential repercussions.

Our study provides a snapshot of the impact the coronavirus has had on the lives of North Carolina and South Carolina’s consumers to date. It provides insight into how consumers have modified their behaviors in the short term, but also how some of these behaviors might continue in the mid- to longer-term and the implications these changes may have on the economy – and to industries and businesses.

The study also serves as a benchmark for measuring changes as the situation and environment continue to develop. In the coming weeks, we will update our study, revisit past topics, and add new ones.

STRESS, WORRY & A RETURN TO NORMAL 

The environment around the coronavirus pandemic is clearly one of great concern; it is not, however, one of panic.  

Relatively few consumers view themselves in “meltdown” mode but consumers are concerned about coming into contact with the coronavirus and/or catching it and becoming ill. Most feel like it will take until the Fall or longer until things return to normal. While consumers are concerned about their health, they are also concerned about their finances. This conflict – wanting to stay healthy and financially stable – is creating further confusion among consumers who don’t want to get sick but are ready for the economy to open.

Employment Impact

Just over half of the households report changes at work.

Over half of households report changes at work, ranging from working from home to having someone in the household become furloughed or lose a job altogether. The good news is that consumers are confident their jobs will be there when the pandemic ends. 

IMPACT ON BEHAVIOR – NOW & IN THE FUTURE

Consumers are concerned and confused. Some changes in behavior caused by the coronavirus will have lasting effects.

Consumers miss their old routines and want things to return to normal. They are being optimistic about the future, but they are also embracing parts of the “new normal” and realizing that this is going to take some time. Consumers want to go out to eat, but they also say they may continue to practice social distancing, cook more at home and take out rather than dine-in once the pandemic subsides. They miss going out to movies, but they also say they might be more likely to stream movies at home rather than go to the theater after the pandemic ends. 

Staying Informed

Consumers are more likely to feel coronavirus is not being taken seriously enough than they are to feel it’s being exaggerated. 

Local TV news and the major news networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) are the primary sources for news about the coronavirus. While many consumers feel the news they hear is “fairly accurate,” many feel it is not being taken seriously enough. FOX News and posts by friends on social media are most likely to be viewed as minimizing the situation. Generally speaking, consumers have confidence in federal and state health entities.

IMPACT ON TRAVEL 

Consumers are not confident they will be able to take a summer vacation.

The coronavirus pandemic is having a tremendous impact on tourism and travel. A majority of consumers say they have already canceled or postponed travel plans. Further, a majority of consumers are not confident they will be able to take a summer vacation.

Impact on Education

Consumers with school-aged children want them back in school but are also concerned if going back will lead to them contracting coronavirus and therefore getting sick.

While many children – and especially their parents – have struggled to continue with education at home, there is good news to report. Most families with school-aged children say they are satisfied with the job their schools are doing with online education.

Impact on Food Consumption

The availability of groceries – both now and in the coming weeks – has many consumers concerned.

Concerns vary on several demographic and socioeconomic variables, with women, households with children and low-income households being most concerned about the availability of groceries. Consumers miss going out to eat. At the same time, they also say they may continue to practice social distancing, cook more at home and take out rather than dine-in once the pandemic subsides. As restaurants look to reopen, they need to communicate the precautions they are taking to minimize the risk of exposure.

Want to receive future Chernoff Newman Insights?

Sign up now to be alerted when we complete our next survey.

Sign up now to be alerted when we complete our next survey.