View our ongoing consumer research and insights in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
COVID-19 Insights Center
Business | 5.21.20

COVID-19 | Consumer Insights for Business

Ellen Houston
Managing Director of Applied Data Science
Masa Aida
Principal Survey Scientist

L.E.K Consulting & Civis Analytics Pulse Report | Fielded April 20, 2020

In partnership with management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting, Civis is publishing “COVID-19 in the U.S.: Consumer Insights for Businesses.” Administered approximately every two weeks, the survey tracks the pandemic’s impact on consumer sentiment as it relates to businesses, honing in on different segments, geographies and products. This 3rd edition of the survey was fielded on April 20, 2020. Responses from approximately 4,500 U.S. adults were weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population.

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Impact on Regular/Monthly Spending

Consumer spend across a wide range of regular/monthly spending categories has changed significantly as a result of the outbreak. Many regular/monthly spending categories have experienced a decline in average monthly spend levels, according to consumers, specifically:

  • Average spend on activities outside the home (e.g., dining out, taxi/ridesharing, entertainment outside the home, and fitness outside the home) is down. Average monthly spend across all of these categories decreased further relative to Editions 1 and 2 of our survey (approximately one month and two weeks ago, respectively).
  • Average spend on nonessentials (e.g., fashion and beauty) also continue to decline. Consumers report that spend on these categories has decreased further relative to Editions 1 and 2 of our survey, although these declines were generally less severe than those for activities outside the home.
  • Healthcare services spend and vitamins, minerals, & supplements spend has continued to trend upwards over the last two weeks, according to consumers, indicating consumer mindfulness of health and wellness.
  • Other at-home activities continue to trend upwards, specifically at-home TV streaming spend and pet product spend.

Notably, takeout/delivery spend was down 10%-15% as of March 18th and roughly back in line with pre-outbreak spend levels according to our April 1st survey; in our latest edition, takeout spending is up 5-10%. This feedback would suggest consumers are increasingly turning to takeout as an alternative to home cooking.

Monthly Spend Changes

We also assessed the degree of stockpiling in this latest edition of the survey. We found that consumers report they have ~5 weeks of non-perishable groceries, ~2 weeks of perishable groceries, and ~6 weeks of pet food as of April 20, 2020.

Current Stockpiles

Consumers report that they plan to cancel or avoid a significant portion of anticipated spend during 2020 on household durable and consumer electronics subcategories (including any spend that has already been cancelled or avoided). There appear to be higher rates of unplanned spend within home entertainment and home productivity.  However, these categories are still net negative, as the unplanned spend is likely on lower value items to support working from home, such as monitors and headphones.

Electronic Spend


Travel spend impact

As the outbreak progresses, the percent of consumers cancelling travel continues to rise. ~90% of business travelers and ~86% of leisure travelers cancelled at least some of their travel plans, up from ~83% and ~80% respectively, on April 1st.

Business travelers indicate a strong willingness to replace large portions of business travel with virtual tools (i.e., video-conferencing). While frequent travelers anticipate lower rates of replacement, the overall amount of travel estimated to be replaced, based on consumers’ responses, is ~26%.

Travel Spend

There is strong support for all “new” safety measures tested, many of which are already in place, potentially creating a smoother transition back to normal life for consumers.


Safety precautions for travel

Consumer Reaction to Future Scenarios

Consumers were asked to consider two different future recovery scenarios; scenario 1 in which the country is beginning to recover and scenario 2, in which the outbreak is nearly contained in the country. Here’s what we found:

  • Within both future states, consumers were pessimistic about the 6 month outlook for their personal finances and the economy.
  • Consumers indicate that they will be cautious in resuming various economic activities, regardless of the specific details of a recovery scenario. For example, under both scenarios, a significant number of consumers indicated they would not be willing to resume specific activities at all. A larger majority said they would resume activities, but only with “new” safety measures in place. Very few said they would resume activities with no safety measures at all.
  • Many of the measures that would make consumers feel safe (e.g., cleaning/sanitation and social distancing) are already being practiced today/during the outbreak, suggesting it may not be too difficult for retailers and service providers to adjust to these requests.

Future Scenarios

Personal Finances

The full report with more insights, charts, graphs, and analysis can be downloaded by clicking the link below.


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Download Full Survey Results from Prior Weeks

Week of April 1:      Report

Week of March 18: Report


Civis Analytics

L.E.K Consulting