How inflation is changing our behavior at the pump and the ATM

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 Ipsos’ latest wave of the 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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Since the early days of the pandemic, everyone has been wondering when we’d hit a new normal and what that would look like. From this editor’s perspective, you can make a case with this data that the new normal looks like today. Pretty much everything we trended is flat. The IPAC, Ipsos' measure of Americans' feelings about the virus, hasn’t moved a point in a month, when we last asked. Masking continues to fade. Appetite for new restrictions is flat despite cases being up 20% and well over 120,000 daily. Remember when the goal was to get under 100 a day – and that was attainable? Uh huh. But mostly we’ve figured out how to adjust and take all of this – including inflation in a lot of ways – in stride.

Here’s what we know today from the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker:

  • The mood of the nation has really stabilized, as measured by the IPAC. There’s been essentially no movement in the last few months as we settle into a 57%/43% split on improving vs. coping. This bullet is still so true I’m leaving it from the last wave.
  • About three in ten say they are frequently wearing a mask indoors, while now half say they are infrequently doing so.
  • The high threat/low threat divide is steady at 23%/41%.
  • The number of folks who say their spending is going to increase is steady, but the “decrease” camp seems to have shifted a few points into “no change.”
  • One in four now say prices will never go back down. 36% say they will fall within the next six months.

Read on for data about: Pandemic-changed habits, inflation and fraud and more.

chart showing how people are responding to high gas prices

How are gas prices changing our behaviors?

Why we asked: We wanted to dig a little deeper on not just if high prices (coming down!) are changing things, but how.

What we found: Seven in ten are driving less overall. 80% are comparing prices at nearby stations. 80% are also combining errands to save on driving. 67% are shopping at closer stores, but 20% are driving further to find cheaper prices for the things they’re shopping for.

chart showing how inflation has changed people's personal finances

What has inflation changed

Why we asked: We wanted also to dig deeper into what has inflation changed for consumers?

What we found: About as many have taken on debt as reduced it, but most say their debt is unchanged. Many more say their net worth has decreased vs. increased (33% to 12%) but again, most say it hasn’t changed. Interestingly, more say they have decreased their monthly spend than increased it (29% to 21%) but again, half say it hasn’t changed.

chart showing that people are more optimistic about their long-term future than they are about next year

How optimistic are we?

Why we asked: We wanted to get a read on how we’re thinking about the near (1-year) and slightly less near (5-year) future for ourselves and our world.

What we found: About half of people feel optimistic for themselves in the next 12 months. But the further we get from there it starts to fall off: You and your family’s financial situation (44%); the area where you live (42%) the nation (21%) and the world (18%). Overall, we’re more optimistic about the 5-year horizon with a similar fall-off.

The IPAC shows little movement as people stabilize

Signals

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

  • Tech worker backlash is a thing in China (via RestOfWorld)
  • AI is better with humans (via MIT)
  • GenZ not as interested in college (via FastCompany).

For complete toplines for all waves, please see the full data and methodology. 

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab

Society