Less Public Transportation, Working at Home & Home Schooling

Nielsen released the findings of a new study covering American consumer sentiment about COVID-19 and media usage. The study also includes insights about activities consumers engage in, health, schooling, employment, and transportation during the pandemic. Additionally, the study includes new data about vaccines, and how people get the things they buy.

According to this consumer sentiment survey, consumers eighteen and older now show increased confidence with respect to consumer behavior.  The survey looked at three segments reflecting attitudes about the pandemic. People who are “Ready to Go,” those who “Proceed with Caution” and consumers who “Wait and See” when it comes to resuming normal behavior.  The Ready to Go segment peaked at 61% in the March 2021 survey compared with 34% in April 2020. The more pessimistic group of Wait and See consumers dropped to 9% in March 2021 compared with 29% a year ago.

Other key consumer sentiments about recovery from the pandemic,

  • 82% now say that stores that were closed have started to open again compared with only 40% in April of last year.
  • 64% agree that it is safer than it was a month ago, compared to 38% in April 2020.
  • 72% agree that their town is starting to emerge from the crisis versus 44% a year ago.

The study showed that heavy radio listeners are more likely to make big-ticket purchases within a year. Heavy radio listeners are 18% more likely to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle in the next year, and 64% are more likely to buy a house in the next twelve months, compared to total adults.

“As Americans continue to navigate the pandemic, the future looks promising,” said Brad Kelly, Managing Director, Nielsen Audio. “Consumers are becoming more optimistic and resuming more normal activities, especially heavy radio listeners. AM/FM listeners are more likely to be out and about and spending more time in their vehicles.”

Among the other findings from the study:

  • Vaccines
    • More than half (52%) have either gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, have an appointment to get vaccinated, or have registered to get it when eligible. These consumers are more likely to be male and tend to be older
    • One in four (26%) are uncertain about getting the vaccine and one in five do not intend to get vaccinated. Those who are uncertain or don’t plan to get the vaccine tend to be younger, female, and Hispanic.
  • Employment
    • Among the employed, two-thirds now work outside the home, up nearly 70% since April.
    • Workers at home due to COVID-19 declined by more than half since April 2020.
  • Transportation
    • All groups are using less public transportation due to COVID-19.
    • Those spending an hour or more in vehicles is up 150% since April, and heavy radio listeners are more likely to spend an hour or more in the car.
  • Schooling
    • In March, the number of children attending in-person classes exceeded those attending virtual-only classes.
    • Children of heavy radio listeners are more likely to attend in-person classes and less likely to attend virtual classes or be homeschooled.
    • Nine in ten say the radio is on during the drive to school.
  • Health and Doctor Visits
    • Significant levels of concern remain about the health implications of COVID-19, with 65% more concerned with the health of a family member of a close friend than their own health (53%).
  • How Local Shopping Has Changed
    • Nearly 8 in 10 are now getting items delivered that they ordered online compared with 7 in 10 before the pandemic.
    • Fewer are now getting items they buy in the store (72%) compared with prior to COVID-19 (78%).  That said, getting items purchased in-store is the second most frequent way people get the things they buy.
    • More are now getting things they buy in new ways such as having items they bought in a store delivered to their home (38%), as well as in-store (38%) and curbside pick up (35%), compared with those who did so prior to the pandemic (15%, 27%, and 22% respectively).
    • Nearly 3 in 10 consumers expect to do more in-store shopping in the months ahead compared with the 11% who expect to do that less. This is a good sign for the local retail economy in the coming months.
    • Consumers expect to do less in-store pick up, less curbside pickup, and less home delivery from local stores in the next year which suggests that fewer restrictions are likely to spark a return to more normal local shopping habits.

About the Nielsen Survey

Nielsen conducted an online survey to gauge the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. The survey was administered online among a weighted sample of 1,009 adults 18+ in the U.S. between March 11-15th, 2021. Nielsen conducted similar surveys in April, May, June, and October 2020.