Posted: 03 Jun. 2020 7 min.

What do 15,000 consumers say about anxiety and their intentions to spend money?

Topic: Consumer

Every two weeks, Deloitte asks thousands of global consumers about their levels of anxiety, their travel plans and, most importantly, their intentions to spend money during the crisis.

‘Re-opening’ – such a simple word that we normally use when a business is closed for refurbishment or the local ice cream shop opens its doors for the summer season. Today, we use it to describe an entire world that has been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, turning a global health disaster into an economic crisis.

Although it looks as if the pandemic is now abating in Scandinavia, the largest companies across the Nordics are only beginning to understand the long-term consequences of the crisis with regards to their global supply chain and their global customer base. Sure, they care about their home country because this is where we live and work, but ultimately their success is depending on the global export markets: the US, Germany, the UK and China just to name a few.

To help our clients make better decisions as they move into a state of recovery, Deloitte is conducting a series of biweekly surveys in multiple countries to understand the mindset of the consumers during the crisis. The surveys started on April 13, 2020 and have already uncovered many interesting findings. As we gather longitudinal data, we expect to develop even more insights into the “next normal” that we are all about to inhabit.

What we already know
Looking at the global numbers, at least two trends emerge:

First, it is evident that although the crisis is global, consumers respond very differently across the major markets as each country is finding its own path trying to bridge the concern for personal safety and financial health. Right now, respondents in India, Mexico, Spain and China are showing the greatest rise in anxiety, possibly due to the extension of stay-at-home orders that impact employment prospects. They are followed by France, UK, South Korea and Italy.

In contrast, respondents in Germany, the Netherlands and Japan, on average, disagreed that they were more anxious last week than the previous week, possibly as a result of adjusting to the new normal and/or announcements of plans to reopen their economies. Either way, their reported lack of increase in anxiety is a hopeful sign to those who are still in the throes of the crisis.

Second, facing a great deal of economic uncertainty, many consumers continue to curb their non-essential spend. When we look at net spending intent—that is, the percentage of respondents indicating that they will spend more minus the percentage of those who say they will spend less—not surprisingly, we see a net intent spending increase in the essential categories, led by household goods and groceries.

With many people working from home, the survey also shows a slight rise in the intent to spend on utilities, internet, and mobile communications. However, looking at non-essential goods such as clothing, furnishings, electronics and restaurants, it is evident that these categories are still severely hit by the crisis as consumers find it easy to eliminate them from their current budgets.

Do visit the survey sight where you can apply your own filters, search for age groups, look at specific countries and compare over time to match the insights you need for your specific situation. Explore the survey here.

In addition you can consider visiting our COVID-19 sector heatmaps, in which we offer a visual snapshot of how sectors across a number of countries are currently dealing with the crisis. This information is helpful for anyone in charge of drafting a global recovery strategy, maintaining business continuity and financing as well as strengthening digital capabilities and eventually embracing the long view and reinventing to thrive. Explore the COVID-19 sector heatmaps here.

We will continue to closely monitor the interplay between personal safety and economic behaviour in order to provide insight and answers on questions regarding among others when consumers in different countries will feel safe enough to return to work, stores, restaurants, and travel, how they will respond to the dual crisis of health and economy and whether or not they eventually will return to old behaviours or adapt to new ones?

Just like you, I am keen to stay alert!

Forfatter spotlight

Martin Nyrop

Martin Nyrop


Martin is Head of Deloitte Digital in Copenhagen and has more than 15 years of consulting experience working with clients in the intersection between consumer technology and growth. He leads Deloitte’s work for some of the largest Nordic clients globally who he helps understand how to compete in an economy with a radically advanced approach to digital and ecommerce. Martin’s experience spans across industries and he has worked with leading companies in the Life & Pension Industry, fast moving consumer goods, as well as Industrial products. Martin does frequent talks on how sectors are being changed by customer digitalization and how to compete in a digital economy.

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