Increase in consumer confidence in visiting stores, attending in-person events – Deloitte report

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Increase in consumer confidence in visiting stores, attending in-person events – Deloitte report

Consumer confidence in visiting physical stores, engaging in person-to-person services and attending in-person events has increased, according to Deloitte Ireland’s latest State of the Consumer Tracker. Despite an increase in confidence, however, Irish consumers are currently the second-most-anxious in Europe.

Deloitte’s State of the Consumer Tracker is a monthly survey which tracks Irish consumers’ attitudes towards personal wellbeing, financial concerns, travel and hospitality, transport and retail. The results are based on a survey of 1,000 consumers across 19 countries respectively (1,000 Irish consumers). The most recent data was gathered between 3 February and 3 March, as the country remained under full Level 5 restrictions.

Commenting on the latest results, Daniel Murray, Partner and Head of Consumer at Deloitte Ireland, said, “The findings of the latest State of the Consumer Tracker show that consumer confidence is hesitantly rising, a welcome sight. As Ireland’s vaccine rollout continues, consumers are naturally anticipating returning to the workplace and partaking in activities such as shopping in-store, engaging in in-person services and attending in-person events.

“Throughout the last year, however, we have observed just how sensitive consumer confidence is to shocks and setbacks. We are likely to see further outbreaks of cases before a significant majority of the population has been vaccinated; this will test consumers’ resilience and make the recovery of consumer confidence a constant uphill battle.”

Concerns and spending intent

Irish consumers’ concern for their own physical wellbeing has increased by 2% since the previous wave of research, conducted four weeks prior. However, there were slight decreases recorded in consumers’ concern for the health of their families (down 1%), concern around making upcoming payments (down 3%) and concern around making large purchases (down 1%).

Concern around job loss was down by 2%, with concern around returning to the workplace down by 6%.

Those feeling safe to visit a physical store was up by 7%, while confidence in engaging in person-to-person services, such as hairdressing, was up by 9%. Confidence in attending in-person events also increased by 4%.

A decrease of 5% was recorded in spending intent over the next four weeks on both household goods and utilities, when compared with the previous four weeks. There was also a 4% decrease in spending intent on internet/mobile services.

There was a general increase in consumers’ intent to spend on non-essential items (up 5%). Increases were recorded in intent to spend on alcohol (up 2%) and restaurants / takeaways (up 7%). There was a 5% decrease recorded in intent to spend on clothing and footwear, however and a slight decrease in those considering spending on more locally-sourced items (down 2%).

Travel, hospitality & tourism

A strong increase was recorded in consumers’ intent to spend on travel (up 7% on the last wave), as well as an increase in consumer confidence in air travel (up 3%). Confidence in staying in hotels has also increased by 7%.

In general, there has been an increase in those planning to travel for leisure over the next three months: to hotels (up 5%); private accommodation (up 3%) and on international flights (up 3%).

A slight increase was recorded in consumers planning to limit their use of ride-hailing services over the next three months (up 2%) and an increase in consumers stating they ‘plan to drive less often’ as a reason for keeping their current vehicle longer than expected (up 4%).

Covid-19 and vaccinations

Participants in the survey were asked when they expected to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (i.e. having received all the doses needed for immunity). 2% reported that they are already fully vaccinated. 5% expected to be fully vaccinated within one month; 16% expected to be fully vaccinated within three months; 25% expected to be fully vaccinated within six months; 14% expected to be fully vaccinated within nine months; 15% expected it would take more than nine months for them to be fully vaccinated; 13% were unsure; and 8% said that they would choose not to be vaccinated.

Participants were also asked to indicate to what extent they intend to take part in certain activities when the pandemic is over. Home-based activities were likely to continue at a higher level post-pandemic: 51% said they intend to cook at home more post-pandemic than they did pre-pandemic; 41% said they will buy more fresh food; 38% said they will shop online for delivery more; 35% said they will stream on TV more; 34% said they will engage in more home improvement projects; 23% said they will work from home more.

In contrast, activities based outside of the home were likely to stay below pre-pandemic levels. 15% said they will be less likely to drive their vehicle on a daily basis post-pandemic; 15% said they will be less likely to visit a doctor or dentist in person; 24% said they will engage in less person-to-person services and 30% said they will attend less in-person events. Furthermore, 31% said they will eat at restaurants less; 34% said they will stay at hotels less; 35% said they will use less public transport; 35% said they will take less flights; 36% said they will go to the gym less; and 44% said they will use ride-hailing services less.

Murray commented: “The reality of life in lockdown quickly ushered in huge changes in consumer behaviour, which have been of benefit to some sectors and businesses, but have been disastrous for others. These findings strongly suggest that the shift we have seen in consumer behaviour could be more long-term than originally thought. As restrictions ease over the coming months, behaviours that have been embedded over the last year will shape a new type of consumer. Business leaders cannot take for granted that things will ‘go back to normal’ once the worst of the pandemic is behind us - the need to constantly innovate to meet consumers’ needs will still be present as the new, post-pandemic world begins to take shape.”

Article Published: 31/03/2021