The coronavirus pandemic is shaking the global economy, impacting the confidence, shopping behaviour, and social activities of consumers everywhere. With millions of people around the world under lockdown or ordered to stay home, a recent survey by McKinsey appealed to consumers’ concerns about the disruption to their daily lives and their overall outlook of the future. The survey tracked consumer sentiment throughout several countries including the USA, UK, Australia, and South Africa. 

A snapshot of the global sentiment revealed that Japan has the highest level of concern about their economic recovery, with only 6% of respondents having a positive outlook. China, which is making great strides in the battle against the outbreak, had the most positive attitude towards the situation, with 53% of respondents anticipating economic recovery. 

 

Even though people tend to spend less money on discretionary purchases during the crisis, the survey observed an uptick in spending in certain countries, most likely attributed to panic buying and stocking up on essential products. Online shopping increased globally as physical stores shut down and people are ordered to stay home, however, this trend has not come close to offsetting the overall reduction in spending.

In South Africa, confidence levels about the economy are low – only 28% of respondents are optimistic about an economic rebound. Consumers say they are planning to cut back across all spending categories during the April lockdown, except on groceries and home entertainment. 

Consumers also revealed which shopping channels they plan to use when purchasing goods during the crisis, divided between online and in-store: with home entertainment, books, magazines, and newspapers likely to be consumed online while they’ll likely go in-store for groceries, food takeaways, household supplies, personal care products, skincare and makeup, footwear, accessories, jewellery, furniture and appliances, fitness and wellness apparel, alcohol, and tobacco.

With more time spent at home these days, it’s no surprise that South African consumers project considerable behaviour changes. The table below shows how they were planning to allocate their time to home activities that will help them get through the tough days ahead.

 

Category Spend less time Stay the same  Spend more time
Cooking at home 3% 28% 69%
Texting, chatting, messaging 5% 29% 66%
Using social media 6% 32% 61%
Reading news online 9% 28% 63%
Watching movies or shows 11% 26% 63%
Watching live news 10% 30% 61%
Watching video content 13% 30% 57%
Online learning 24% 30% 46%
Meditation/ mindfulness 22% 36% 42%
Reading fiction/ non-fiction 25% 37% 39%
Exercise 24% 43% 34%
Playing video games 33% 27% 40%
Working 46% 33% 21%
Reading physical newspapers 49% 27% 24%
Online shopping for groceries 52% 23% 25%

 

McKinsey’s report shows that the coronavirus pandemic is causing disruption and uncertainty in all aspects of daily life, from work and finances to socialising and travel. By sharing these stats on how people are adjusting their shopping and online habits, we hope you’ll find some useful insights that will help you connect with customers and keep your Search and Display, and Social marketing strategies relevant during the current turmoil.