Have we found the new – or at least the current – normal?

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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After some volatility in recent waves of Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker polling, many things seem to have settled into a rhythm with many results this wave being flat vs. previous waves. Even the IPAC, which had been showing fairly steady progress, seems to have flattened. Partially, COVID cases are lower, partially gas prices have stabilized and even dropped in recent weeks, according to GasBuddy.com. And our data would suggest that we’re settling in to our inflationary spending changes. But… (there’s always a but), cases are creeping back up again. No one seems to expect another massive surge – at least until fall – but it’s always worth keeping an eye on.

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

  • The IPAC is more positive now than it’s been since the delta-driven collapse last July. 
  • Most (two out of three) workers have some sort of policy in place about time spent in the office. 32% are expected to be there every day. 26% say they need to show up 2-5 days per week. [W50]
  • Should there be another surge of COVID cases, 76% of people support returning to at least some restrictions including masks in stores and businesses (59%), bars and restaurants (49%) and in schools (47%). Vaccine requirements at work (38%) and stores (32%) were slightly less popular. [W50]
  • Rising gas prices mean that 45% reported that they are driving less overall, vs. 38% who said they have made no changes. Few have taken more extreme or specific steps like canceling a road trip or carpooling more often. 10% say they’ve looked into buying an electric or hybrid vehicle. [W50]

Read on for data about: Inflation, the metaverse, summer vacation, masks and more.

We still want to go back in the water

Why we asked: We re-asked the summer vacation question to see if people’s plans had changed as we get closer to summer itself. 

What we found: They haven’t. The results are essentially flat from wave 48 last month in terms of our desire to get back out on road trips (65%), domestic flights (45%), international flights (25%), dining at restaurants (81%) and more. We seem quite ready to be done with all of this, even more so than at this time last year.

Are we still masking?

Why we asked: Don’t know if you’ve been out in the world much, but many more folks are not wearing masks, even in areas where they were up until recently.

What we found: About one in four (26%) say they are always wearing masks indoors in public places. Another 41% are often (18%) or sometimes (23%). This is mostly unchanged since wave 50 except the “always” piece of the pie has dropped a bit. As restrictions continue to relax (for now) and cases continue to drop (kinda, and for now at least) it will be interesting to see if these numbers shift or if we have a certain population that is just settling into somewhat permanent mask wearing. And then it’ll be interesting to see how that is perceived by others who are less likely to mask. 

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Inflation part one, prices rising

Why we asked: Are we still feeling prices climb?

What we found: Looking back at the start of the year vs. now, people still think prices are climbing across a host of categories, especially dairy and gas.

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Inflation part two, purchase cuts

Why we asked: Are people still changing their shopping habits in response to higher prices?

What we found: Yes. One in three still say they are buying fewer products overall, which is down from wave 49 a month ago and about where it was at the start of 2022. Those who say they are going to sacrifice some purchases to afford essentials dipped to 27% from wave 49’s 35%. Only 16% say their habits won’t change at all.

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Inflation part three, overall spending

What we found: Today, 37% expect their total spending to continue increasing over the next three months, which is unchanged since mid-March – though there’s a drop in those saying it will increase a lot. Both waves are higher than the start of the year, when only 26% thought their spending would increase. Currently, only 17% expect to spend less in the coming months.

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The metaverse

Why we asked: We wanted to check in on people’s experience in the metaverse thus far. 

What we found: Overall, very few have taken part in any metaverse activity, with gaming and socializing being the most popular activities at about 15% each. But consider that when the web was two years old, only 3% of Americans had ever used it, according to Pew.

Making memories

Why we asked: We wanted to know, as people are spending more time out in the world, but also spending more time online, where they’re building their memories.

What we found: Most said that in-person experiences with friends were the most memorable in the past month, followed distantly (19%) by the in-person experiences we have by ourselves. Various virtual experiences (like online gaming with friends or video meetings) were much less memorable, with none of the options registering in the double digits. 

Signals

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

 

  • Drone delivery is coming – for real – as major retailers begin testing services in densely populated communities for the first time (via Axios)
  • China says no to the algo – a new law would allow people to bypass algorithmic recommendations and news feeds. (via Medium)
  • Snap buys maker of mind-controlled headset – your AR experience could get much more interesting. (via TechCrunch)
  • Remember that thing about Accenture buying headsets? Earlier we noted that the consulting giant had picked up 60,000 Oculus headsets for staff. It’s now making good on some of that capability. (via AFR)

 

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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

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