As pandemic spreads, consumers retreat, says first of Deloitte Global’s biweekly global surveys

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As pandemic spreads, consumers retreat, says first of Deloitte Global’s biweekly global surveys

  • With COVID-19’s impact on economies still uncertain, angst remains elevated among consumers when it comes to personal well-being and finances
  • Consumers in most countries intend to curb their spending—both nondiscretionary and discretionary—to make ends meet

NEW YORK, NY, USA, 11 MAY 2020—As a global health crisis morphs into an economic one, Deloitte is conducting a series of biweekly surveys around the globe to better understand the interplay between personal safety and economic vulnerability as a driver of purchase decisions and consumer behavior. The first survey, “Deloitte Global State of the Consumer Tracker,” was conducted during the week of 13 April 2020 and queried 1,000 consumers in each of 13 countries. The responses provide insight on how consumers across the world intend to weather this dual crisis.

An uneasy consumer outlook

The survey reveals that as the pandemic continues to unfold, consumers have considerable angst about their personal well-being. Health concerns are highest in China and India, the world’s two most populous countries, with more than 75 percent of these countries’ consumers concerned for their family’s health. And when it comes to resuming normal routines across the countries surveyed, only 35 percent of respondents said that they feel safe going to the store, only 25 percent feel safe staying in a hotel, and only 22 percent feel safe taking a flight.

“Concerns about health has obvious implications for consumer-oriented businesses,” says Leon Pieters, Deloitte Global’s Consumer Industry leader. “Clearly, people must feel safe from the virus before they visit a shop or board an airplane.”

The pandemic is also causing significant financial anxiety across the globe. On average, 42 percent of respondents who still have a job worry about losing it. In most countries, more than 25 percent of respondents were concerned about paying bills, with some countries approaching or reaching 50 percent.

Anxiety’s impact on spending

Facing economic uncertainty, a majority of consumers in most countries intend to curb their discretionary spending. Many may also start looking for ways to cut their less discretionary spending to make ends meet.

Chief among these are plans to delay large purchases. Respondents in India, at 66 percent, and China, at 59 percent were the most likely to delay large purchases. Many consumers, particularly those in Canada and Italy, also reported that they intend to lower their average discretionary spend over the next four weeks.

“The pandemic is having a distinct impact on consumer spending—with potentially major consequences for those economies driven by consumption,” points out Pieters. “As isolation measures start to relax, purchasing trends for discretionary items should be a good indicator of pent-up demand and a signal of whether consumers are ready to spend again.”

Countries in the survey include Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Steve Dutton
Global Communications
Deloitte Global
Tel: +1 202 738 7586
Mobile: +1 202 734 3207


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