Security Perceptions Shaken by Omicron Variant, But Financial Sentiment Remains Steady

Unlike past pandemic waves, new safety concerns show little sign of shaking consumer confidence

NEW YORK, February 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ —

Key points to remember

  • Worldwide, perceptions of safety have dropped sharply amid rising cases of Omicron, affecting activities such as going to the store, traveling and eating out. For some activities, Omicron erased nearly a year of progress in improving overall perceptions of safety.

  • By comparison, the decline in safety perceptions in the United States has been more moderate. The percentage of American consumers who to feel safe send their children to school refused most, from 40% in November to 33% in December.

  • Progress on returning to the office has slowed while the percentage of employed adults in the United States who cite being able to work from home rose slightly for the first time in four months, from 51% in November to 54% in December.

  • As security issues return, the percentage of US consumers who cite spending more on material things (vs. experiences) has risen from 19% to 25% since September. Similarly, those who cite replacing more in-person interaction with digital services fell from 21% to 26%.

  • Since October, the percentage of American consumers plan a domestic flight for leisure to travel fell from a nearly two-year high of 43% to 33%. Those who plan to travel abroad have fallen from 30% to 19%.

why it matters
Because March 2020, the world has lived a collective human experience that continues to shape and change consumer priorities, shopping behaviors, preferences and consumption decisions. To track these trends, Deloitte conducted a series of monthly surveys around the world. The most recent iteration of “Deloitte Global Consumer Status Trackerwas conducted in 23 countries during the week of December 23-29, and surveyed at least 1,000 consumers in each country. The responses provide insight into how consumers are adapting to the next phase of the pandemic.

Omicron is finally weakening security perceptions in the United States
In two months, Omicron lowered perceptions of safety for most activities worldwide to their lowest levels in a year, and for activities such as school attendance and returning to work, to their highest levels. lows measured since mid-2020.

  • In the United States, the perception of the safety of many activities has dropped considerably, in particular Sending in progress children at school, which fell from 40% in November to 33% in December. Safety perceptions have also declined for taking a flight (48% to 42%) and engaging in individual services (71% to 65%) since early November.

  • Renewed security concerns are likely impacting some purchasing decisions. Since September, the percentage of US consumers who cite spending more on material things (vs. experiences) has risen from 19% to 25%. Similarly, those who cite replacing more in-person interaction with digital services fell from 21% to 26%.

  • There is also evidence that Omicron slows the progress of returning to the office. Throughout the fall season, the percentage of employed adults in the United States who said they could do their work from home dropped steadily, from 63% to 51%. But that number increased slightly to 54% in December.

  • Overall, Americans continue to spend more time working remotely than the rest of the world. The average number of days per week spent working remotely in the United States has remained constant at just over three days since September.

key quote
“While perceptions of safety have declined again amid a rise in Omicron cases, consumer confidence remains unshaken. Overall US consumer discretionary spending intentions remain flat. People have seen this movie before. . And I think that speaks to a growing resilience to the pandemic’s continued ebb and flow.”

Antoine WaelterVice President, Deloitte LLP and US Consumer Industry Leader

Omicron is yet to shake financial sentiment
Unlike past pandemic waves, Omicron has yet to shake consumer confidence in the United States. Overall financial sentiment and discretionary spending intentions for the month ahead remain stable.

  • American consumers expect to spend on average $4,800 per household over the coming month, with a third (35%) of their budgets earmarked for more discretionary categories such as leisure and entertainment, restaurants, electronics and leisure travel. These spending intentions have remained virtually unchanged in recent months.

  • About 6 in 10 Americans (59%) remain optimistic that their financial situation will improve over the next three years, a figure that has also remained stable since September 2021.

  • The percentage of consumers concerned about their level of savings (50%) and their credit card debt (40%), although roughly unchanged since September, remains relatively high.

  • Demand for vehicles is showing signs of weakening. In December, 16% of respondents planned to buy a new vehicle in the next six months, compared to 29% in September. Conversely, intentions to purchase used vehicles increased slightly, from 9% to 13%.

  • Inflation fears may start to subside. For the first time since September, the percentage of US consumers who cite rising prices for everyday purchases such as groceries and clothing did not increase.

More and more Americans are putting the brakes on leisure travel
While consumer confidence seems generally unscathed, the renewed uncertainty of the pandemic is likely having a greater influence on travel decisions. As more Americans think twice about staying in a hotel or flying, certain segments of travel, such as car rental and private accommodation rental, may prove more resilient to the pandemic.

  • Pleasure travel spending intentions for the coming month have gradually weakened from an average of around $330 by survey respondent in September to $240 in December.

  • Booking intentions for the next three months fell for most travel products in December, including hotels (47%), domestic flights (34%), cruises (21%) and international flights ( 19%).

  • Amid the rise of Omicron, booking intentions for rental cars (34%) and private accommodation rentals (34%) remained stable, suggesting that consumers continue to perceive these forms of travel as safer.

  • Among employed adults who typically travel for business, 67% expect to take a business trip in the next three months, down significantly from 80%.

key quote
“Consumers have shown resilience, adapting their behaviors to the pandemic as case numbers continue to fluctuate. The pandemic continues to create uncertainty that affects how and when consumers travel, go to work and school, and generally interact with others. once again, consumers have demonstrated their ability to be nimble and flexible as we enter the next phase of this collective global experience.”

Stephen RogersExecutive Director, Deloitte Insights Consumer Industry Center, Deloitte Services LP

For more information, including the full survey results, visit the “Global Consumer Status Tracking.” Join us on Twitter at @DeloitteCB or on LinkedIn @AnthonyWaelter and @StephenRogers.

About Deloitte
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