The supply chain is loosening up, and consumers are noticing

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

  • The IPAC – Ipsos’ measure of Americans’ feelings on the pandemic – is back to being relatively flat after its bounce a month ago.
  • Other COVID indicators are flat as well.
  • Frequent mask usage continues to decline (now 29% from 32% last wave)
  • 59% are familiar with the new booster

Read on for data about: Back to school, gendered activities, supply chain impacts on customer experience, midterm fears and more.

Bar chart showing that the supply chain is improving

Supply chain impacts on customer experience

Why we asked: Supply chain issues are slightly less in the news. But are they still an issue for customers?

What we found: Maybe less so. We last asked this question a year ago and there have been small but consistent declines in questions about wait times, delivery times for food, shipping times for goods and reduced hours at retailers and restaurants. We added a few questions this wave. 43% note staff shortages at restaurants and hotels. 28% report a lack of available products and 20% say there is a decrease in product quality. So things are better in customer minds but still haven’t fully recovered for most. Only 28% say they haven’t experienced any of the above.

Bar chart showing that people are most likely to wear masks on airplanes

Mask wearing is over, but not everywhere

Why we asked: Cases continue dropping steadily (rolling average under 50K!), and frequent mask usage is also dropping steadily. So when people do wear masks, where are they wearing them? (And no, we didn’t ask if people actually cover their nose or just their mouth.)

What we found: Transportation is still a place where people wear masks. Almost half (44%) wear them on a plane (anec-data-lly, that about checks out from my recent flights) and 39% say they wear them on public transportation or rideshares. But only about one in four are wearing them into restaurants or small indoor gatherings. Slightly more at the grocery store (35%).

 Bar chart showing that back-to-school is more normal this year

Back to school seems mostly back to normal

Why we asked: It’s that time of year when grateful parents return their children to the school system. How’s it going?

What we found: This is our second year of trending back-to-school pandemic data. Which sounds depressing. Until you realize it’s the third year of pandemic schooling, but at this point in 2020, most schooling was virtual so we asked different questions. Anyway, things are looking up. Only half as many parents say there have been cases in their kids school this year (27% vs 52%) than at this point in 2021. 19% still say their kids are masking in classrooms, but that’s down from 62% last September. And the number of people who say their kids aren’t dealing with COVID cases or restrictions spiked to 35% from 8%, which seems to indicate that most districts have just moved on.

Bar chart showing that most people plan to get the new booster

The new booster

Why we asked: 59% say they have some familiarity with the new omicron-targeted booster shot. So who’s getting it?

What we found: Most (63%) say they are likely to get it. Unshockingly, those who haven’t gotten vaccinated at all have nearly zero interest (only 4% say they’re very likely to get it). 75% of those who have received at least one booster already say they will get this one, too.

Bar chart showing that few people think November elections will affect them

The midterms and counting the vote

Why we asked: Voting integrity is almost certain to be an issue in the midterm elections. Not on the ballot, but in terms of which ballots are counted and which aren’t. What do people think will happen and do they think it will impact their day-to-day lives?

What we found: Overall most (54%) think the elections will be contested in some states and districts but hat the results will eventually sort themselves out. Only 28% think the results will be announced smoothly in a timely fashion. Another 17% think we will never really know who wins. There are, of course, partisan splits on that. Almost a third of Republicans (30%) think we will never have clear results after the challenges to just 8% of Democrats.

We are much more agreed, however, that whatever happens won’t really impact our lives. Only 15% think contested elections would have a great impact, and 34% say it would have no impact at all. And there is almost no partisan divide on this: Both sides doubt it will matter to our daily lives.

Bar chart showing that grilling is considered an activity mostly performed by men

Of meat and men

Why we asked: Finally, a slight diversion. Your editor likes meat. But he also likes living on planet Earth. Those things are seemingly in conflict, as we discussed in What the Future’s Food and Earth issues. Then, according to the New York Times, a member of the French parliament declared “we have to change our mentality so that eating a barbecued entrecôte is no longer a symbol of virility.” You can imagine the outrage and puns that ensued. But do people perceive this as a problem in the U.S.? Does masculinity threaten the climate by way of brisket and pulled pork?

What we found: So, we decided to ask Americans about two things, to see if they intersected: Gender roles and factors that affect climate change.

To start, we asked about 13 activities and where people think they are most done by men, women, or both. These ranged from running a company, to raising a family, to gardening and social media, to grilling meat. Grilling was seen as the most man-leaning activity, with 49% saying it’s a guy thing and only 2% saying it was women-dominated. So far, the French invective is seeming plausible.

But when we asked Americans about 10 factors that lead to climate change, raising livestock for meat ranked among the least-contributing things, at 63%. Climate change experts would say we did well at ranking carbon-based energy, manufacturing, and driving gas-powered cars as heavy contributors. While raising animals is a contributor, much of its impact comes from land use, energy use and transportation, factors that are also counted elsewhere. But still, the French might be on to something. Even if I’ll personally take that something medium with a side of French… fries.

Signals (The inadvertent climate change edition)

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

  • Artists were selling AI art on stock sites (via ArsTechnica) but now that’s being banned.
  • OpEd: China is coming for video games (via the Washington Post)
  • There are a lot of public sector jobs unfilled (via the Washington Post).
  • Air conditioning is needed but government support lacks (via Chicago Tribune) New tech could help if it gets here in time. (via the Washington Post)
The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab