Here’s what it’ll take to get Americans back into crowded businesses

Many people – especially the wealthiest Americans – want a vaccine before they go out and enjoy restaurants, entertainment and more.

The author(s)
  • Ben Meyerson Director, Marketing
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As brands and consumers begin to envision what life will be like after the pandemic, what will it take for Americans to feel safe in crowded spaces? For one in four Americans, the bare minimum is being vaccinated themselves – but people are growing more eager to get back to places like restaurants, malls and movie theaters, according to new data from the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker.

  • The number of Americans who say they’re afraid to go out for necessities or work is the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic. Only 20% of Americans say they’re afraid now; the number peaked at 42% in April 2020, the first time we asked, and has been slowly dropping ever since.
  • 25% of Americans say being vaccinated themselves is their minimum requirement for being comfortable visiting a crowded indoor space, the most popular choice. 16% said their minimum requirement would be knowing for certain everyone attending will wear a mask, 15% said they would feel comfortable if the CDC declared a low risk for indoor gatherings and 13% said they would feel comfortable if COVID-19 case counts declined to a level they were personally comfortable with.
  • 14% of Americans said they were already comfortable visiting crowded indoor spaces, though Republicans are much more comfortable, on average: 31% of Republicans said they’re currently comfortable in crowded indoor spaces, compared to only 3% of Democrats.
  • Wealthier Americans are more likely to say they want to wait for a vaccine: 30% of people with a household income over $100,000 say they want to wait until they’re vaccinated themselves, compared to 24% of those with income between $50,000 and $100,0000, and 21% of those with income under $50,000.

Wealthy Americans want vaccineOnce people meet their personal threshold for returning to regular life, what places and activities will they rush back to? We asked Americans about services they’ll use when coronavirus restrictions end, and while basics like grocery stores and driving their personal vehicles lead the pack, there’s very strong pent-up demand for formerly common activities like visiting restaurants, going to malls and watching live entertainment.

  • 89% of Americans say they’ll go to grocery stores as much as or more often than they did before, while 87% say they’ll use their personal vehicle as much or more often than they did before the pandemic.
  • 28% say they’ll use their car more than they did before the pandemic.
  • 77% say they’ll go to restaurants and bars as much or more, and 72% say they’ll go to shopping centers or malls as much or more.
  • 62% say they’ll use hotels as much or more.

Pent-up demand by industryBut some services – including some that have strong pent-up demand – will also have a portion of the population to sell on their safety: Many Americans say their desires to use some services have permanently changed.

  • 9% of Americans say they’re likely to use in-person entertainment like movie theaters and concerts less
  • 8% say they’ll use shopping centers or malls less
  • 8% say they’ll use hotels less
  • 6% say they’ll use restaurants and bars less
  • 6% say they’ll use gyms, studios and fitness centers less

With vaccine rollout competing against a mutating virus and still-rising case counts, we don’t know yet when we’ll reach the tipping point that will release this pent-up demand. But a year of anticipation and lockdowns has Americans ready to get out of their homes and rejoin society.

The author(s)
  • Ben Meyerson Director, Marketing

Consumer & Shopper