EN

Back to business

Last updated September 15th, 2020

Consumer sentiment

Below you will find a selection of learnings from a recent survey of consumer attitudes and behavior during the COVID-19 crisis. The selection of learnings may help inform potential changes to your businesses at this time but should not be treated as concrete or absolute findings.

Please note: The below list is not comprehensive, nor is it exhaustive, and it should not be used as a definitive indicator of consumer behavior. The survey data is based on a limited number of responses (n=~2,000) from a variety of locations, and therefore may not reflect accurate information for every location and business type (see here for more information on the survey). The data was last updated on June 21, 2020. Small-business owners and operators should look to local official sources to understand detailed consumer and community sentiment and behavior in their towns and cities.

Intent to shop online

1. Post-COVID-19, consumers expect to make more of their purchases online across all categories

Survey question 1: “Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation started, what proportion of your purchases in this category were online vs from a physical store/in person?”
Survey question 2: “Once the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation has subsided, what proportion of your purchases in this category do you think will be online vs from a physical store/in person?”

Consumers’ use of online channels before and after COVID-19

Source: McKinsey & Company COVID-19 US Consumer Pulse Survey 8/19–8/23/2020, n = 2,026, sampled and weighted to match US general population 18+ years

You may want to explore the following resources if you are considering taking your business online:

  • These thought starters and approaches as a starting point. This approach may not be ideal for all businesses (depending on the product or service sold), but all types of businesses can take advantage of the opportunity to connect with existing and new customers through online channels
  • These approaches to engaging customers online
  • Testing the idea of taking your business online with some of your customers and doing some additional industry-specific research to understand how consumers in your industry prefer to consume your products/services (and how other businesses might be approaching this shift)

Intent to shop in person

2. Most Americans are concerned to travel by airplane or public transit or attend a large event

Survey question: “How worried would you be if you were to do the following activities in the next two weeks? Possible answers: "not worried at all"; "not very worried"; "somewhat worried"; "very worried"; "extremely worried."; figures may not sum up to 100% because of rounding.”

Source: McKinsey & Company COVID-19 US Consumer Pulse Survey 8/19–8/23/2020, n = 2,026, sampled and weighted to match the US general population 18+ years

3. Of the respondents who had not yet engaged with out-of-home activities, 84% were waiting for other key indicators, in addition to lifted government restrictions, before regularly returning to stores, restaurants, and other out-of-home activities

Survey question: “Which best describes when you will regularly return to stores, restaurants, and other out-of-home activities?”

  • 19% Government lifts restrictions

    26% Government lifts restrictions and medical authorities deem safe

    15% Government lifts restrictions and stores, restaurants, and other indoor places start taking safety measures

    9% Government lifts restrictions and I see other people returning

    31% Only once there is a vaccine or treatment

Source: McKinsey & Company COVID-19 US Consumer Pulse Survey 8/19–8/23/2020, n = 2,026, sampled and weighted to match US general population 18+ years

4. Respondents cited masks and barriers, and cleaning and sanitization as most important when deciding where to shop in person

Survey question: “Once restrictions lift, which of the following factors will be most important to you as you decide which of these places to visit in person?” *

Top priorities when deciding where to shop in-store

Source: McKinsey & Company COVID-19 US Consumer Pulse Survey 8/19–8/23/2020, n = 2,026, sampled and weighted to match US general population 18+ years

* Survey question asks respondents about in-store factors
** The following categories are included in each bucket: Cleaning and sanitization—increased cleaning, improved air filtration, availability of sanitizing supplies throughout the store; Health checks—customer wellness check (e.g., temperature) on entry, employees' wellness check (e.g., temperature) on entry; Masks and barriers—customers and employees wear masks, customers and employees provided masks and gloves, plastic barrier with cashier; No-contact purchasing—curbside pick-up, cashier-less checkout, no contact delivery, buy online for pickup in store; Physical distancing—customer number limit, distancing in customer line, reduced employee activity during shopping hours; Store regulations—no customer product testing, one-way store aisles, special hours for high-risk shoppers.

You may want to consider the following resources if you are thinking about reopening and are concerned that consumers may not be comfortable visiting your location:

Once you have reviewed these resources, given the importance of these measures to customer and community safety and to customer comfort, you may wish to consider communicating the following updates to your customers (for example, via social media accounts, email, store-front signage):

  • Relevant updates to national and local government guidance on reopening
  • Measures your business is taking to protect customers, employees, and the broader community
  • Your business’ openness to taking customer feedback on ways to improve the in-store experience
The steps and resources listed are representative rather than exhaustive and are current as of date of publication. Please note that McKinsey & Company does not endorse any of the listed websites or their sponsors. The contents of this site, including any statements, articles, graphics, charts, checklists, and other materials (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or to constitute medical or legal advice.