Deloitte has today released its latest State of the Consumer Tracker - a longitudinal study exploring the consumer mind-set in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The results are based on a survey of 1,000 consumers, which took place between 12 and 16 May, just a few days before the country entered the first phase of the lifting of restrictions put in place in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey shows that concern for personal well-being remains high relative to financial concerns, and informs consumers’ willingness to return to pre-pandemic activities. Fifty percent of Irish consumers surveyed reported concern for their physical wellbeing, with 28% stating that they were more anxious than in the previous week. Sixty five percent said they were concerned about the health of their family and friends.
Regarding financial stability, more than one third (36%) expressed concern about losing their job, while almost a quarter (24%) were concerned they would not be able to make upcoming payments and nearly half (44%) stated they were delaying large purchases.
When asked how safe they would feel undertaking a range of activities, only 16% said they would feel safe taking a flight, with almost a quarter (23%) saying they would feel safe staying in a hotel.
More encouragingly, 43% reported they would feel safe going to the store. However, 39% said they were keeping their homes stocked with more than they immediately need.
Almost half (46%) said they were ok with spending more for convenience to get what they needed, while 50% reported buying more locally-sourced products even if they cost a little more. Over half (54%) prefer to buy store brand products over name brands because they are either less expensive (32%) or generally effective (22%).
Irish consumers are planning to focus their spending on less discretionary items over the next four weeks compared to the last four weeks, with 37% of people intending to spend more on groceries over that timeframe.
In terms of purchase channel, 61% of people still plan to do their grocery shopping in-store over the next four weeks with 25% of consumers indicating they have not used a grocery delivery service.
Commenting on the research, CEO of Deloitte Ireland, Harry Goddard said, "The results published today provide us with a snapshot of Irish consumer attitudes at a critical point in time for industry. Businesses have been working on addressing the short term and immediate impacts of the crisis, but they will now also need to evaluate how changing consumer attitudes and behaviours will impact delivery of services and how they engage with customers on a longer term basis also. Customer needs have changed, and will not revert back to what they were."
He added, "Gaining and keeping consumers’ trust will be more vital than ever now. The expectations that customers place on the companies they deal with will be heightened with regard to digital and physical safety. Consumer-facing organisations should start to consider what success looks like in this post-pandemic world, and work on a clear vision on how their businesses will thrive in the long term."