- Contrary to rosier predictions about consumer sentiment, more than half (52%) of consumers expect their circumstances to stay the same or get worse over the next six months, and 54% said the same about their families, according to a survey of 1,500 people from Alvarez & Marsal's Consumer Retail Group.
- More than half (57%) of consumers expect to have the same or less money over the next six months, and even more (58%) anticipate their families will make the same amount or less over the same time period.
- Shopping behaviors formed during the pandemic aren't going away easily. The majority of respondents (85%) said they plan to continue or accelerate their shopping behaviors that changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as using curbside pick up or home delivery services, per the survey.
Ahead of the all-important holiday season, research from Alvarez & Marsal suggests that consumers have lingering concerns about their financial futures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, consumers' financial expectations vary by background. The report found that 65% of Black respondents and 55% of Hispanic respondents anticipate earning more money over the next six months, compared to 34% of White respondents.
As for where consumers are spending money, the categories are few and far between. Alvarez & Marsal found that consumers plan to spend the same amount or less in 15 of 18 categories studied. Survey respondents plan to spend 18% more on fresh food and 5% more on wellness and fitness, but personal care (-1%), apparel (-7%), entertainment and books (-7%), footwear (-7%), fragrance and cosmetics (-15%), jewelry (-17%) and accessories (-20%) are all categories where consumers want to spend less.
When consumers do buy, the report aligns with previous research indicating that consumers plan to shop at major retailers this holiday season. A third of respondents said they use Amazon's mobile app every week, followed by 19% who said the same about Walmart and 14% who use Target weekly. Survey respondents in a recent JLL survey named Amazon, Walmart and Target as the top three stores they plan to visit this holiday season.
And pandemic-era shopping behaviors are poised to continue as well. ICSC predicts that consumers using omnichannel options will drive a 13% increase in e-commerce sales this year.
The pandemic has been especially hard on lower- and middle-income consumers who have been disproportionately affected financially. Concerns about inflation, job security and the spread of the coronavirus have hampered consumers' confidence in the economy, and the emergence of the delta variant has further disrupted the country's economic recovery.