Here's how inflation is affecting our shopping

In less than five minutes of reading time, we’ll give you all the data and context you need to get you up to speed on wave 54 of the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab
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Here’s what we know today from the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker:

  • Optimism is maybe ticking back up again a hair, as measured by the IPAC, Ipsos’ measure of Americans’ feelings on the endemic.
  • Cases are growing more slowly which is great news. As they do, consumer desire for new protective measures and mandates if cases spike is also flat.
  • The number of people saying they are “never” wearing a mask indoors jumped to 24% from 19%, continuing a rising trend which started at 14% in March.
  • We really seem to have settled into our work routines with a consistent 26% working from home, an additional 18% hybrid and 56% working onsite.

Read on for data about: Inflation, inflation, gas prices and how often we are checking area case rates.

How closely are we paying attention

Why we asked: As an occupational hazard, we keep a pretty tight eye on the daily tallies, but we realize that we might be outliers.

What we found: Since early in the pandemic phase of the endemic we’re in, we’ve had a banner point in all our tracker questions about whether you personally feel highly threatened by COVID-19 or not. This is maybe the first time we’ve charted that point on a topic. Those who feel highly threatened, currently about 20% of people, are checking the rates in their area a whole lot more than the 40% or so who don’t feel personally threatened. While this isn’t surprising, the difference is really stark.

Concerned about COVID chart

Are we willing to cut companies we like some slack on inflation?

Why we asked: What role does customer experience and loyalty play in how we react to price hikes?

What we found: Overall, we see high willingness to pay higher prices for companies where we feel valued as a customer (73%) and offer good customer service (75%). But we have expectations that go with that. If we’re paying more, we expect excellent customer service (81%) and we expect immediate improvements (64%). We have empathy for small businesses that have to raise prices (81%) but much less so for large companies (47%).

chart showing customer tolerance of businesses they know

Our contradictions on inflation

Why we asked: We keep coming back to inflation in new ways to get at how customers are reacting.

What we found: Not sure how many times we’ve seen 95% as a response to a question, but that’s how many people say they have noticed prices rising with almost no variation among any demographics. Most of us (54%) say that we’re buying the stuff we want anyway (again without much shift across demos) but we’re also trying to watch prices (81%) and cut back on the nice-to-haves (77%). For the higher income brackets ($100k+), there’s a feeling (57%) that they saved enough over the past two years that they can cover the higher prices now.

Chart showing that inflation has led to cutbacks but consumers still follow their wants

What’s up with gas prices?

Why we asked: Gas prices are a specific kind of inflation we mostly all feel day-in-day-out. We drilled a little deeper into this spending category (oil pun intended).

What we found: Whoa, there’s that 95% number again – the percentage noting gas prices in their area have risen. In the West, it’s 98%. Nationwide, seven in 10 say that they are driving less and 25% say they are driving out of their way to find stations with cheaper gas. Half are just filling their tank partially instead of all at once. [Editor’s note: I totally just put $20 in the tank at a nearby station so I can later fill it up at Costco.]

Chart showing that 7 in 10 people are driving less due to high gas prices

Signals

Here’s what we’re reading this week that has us thinking about the future.

  • The EU is contemplating a sweeping AI law (via MIT Technology Review)
  • Scientists think they can break down plastic faster (via Singularity Hub)
  • U.S. looking to create “friendly” supply routes (via WSJ)
The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab

Society