State of the consumer in the COVID world
Highlights from Asia Pacific
It has been more than a year since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the most populous region of the world is yet to find its way out of the health and economic crisis. While many nations have contained the health crisis, some are still facing the brunt of second and third waves.
At the beginning of 2021, major countries in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region—Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea—appeared to be winning the war against COVID-19 as the number of new cases came down and economic activity picked up. However, this recovery was short-lived for India as it saw the start of a second wave of infections in February and the situation worsened by April. The seven million cases in April accounted for more than one-third of the total cases since the start of the pandemic in 2020.1 India’s experience is comparable to the second waves seen in many European countries, but on a much greater scale.
The impact of COVID-19 on consumers varies between countries and it is necessary to understand how each responds to the crisis in order to predict how fast they will emerge out of the economic downturn. To analyze these changing consumer sentiments and trends, Deloitte has been conducting a series of monthly surveys around the globe.2
About Deloitte’s State of the Consumer Tracker
Deloitte’s monthly Consumer Tracker survey monitors the attitudes and behaviors of consumers in 18 countries including five APAC countries—Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea—based on replies from 1,000 consumers in each country. The aim of our Tracker is to make regular comparisons between consumer markets in each of these countries and highlight any similarities and differences between them.
Each month we focus on particular issues, but we also identify trends in consumer behavior in response to changes in market conditions. This month’s survey looks at consumer concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and how this may be affecting choices about spending. The findings are based on responses to our survey conducted during 22-28 April 2021.
Key findings from our latest survey
- Among the APAC countries, net anxiety levels increased the most in India, up to 40% from 21% in the previous month, due to the second wave of infections across the country.
- COVID-19 remains the biggest driver of anxiety except in Australia and China. Seventy percent of consumers who are anxious in India, Japan, and South Korea, cited COVID-19 as the biggest cause of anxiety.
- Concern for the physical well-being of others remains consistently higher than concern for personal well-being, and health concerns remain greater than about jobs and money (worries about making upcoming payments and intentions to delay large purchases).
- Surprisingly, health concerns are still greater in China than anywhere else in the world despite emerging early from the pandemic.
- Consumers’ perceptions about the safety of ‘normal’ activities such as going to a store and returning to the workplace remain stronger in China, but are lower in Australia, India, and Japan when compared with the previous month.
- Net spending intentions for less discretionary items are higher than for more discretionary items.
- Net spending intentions for less discretionary items are very high in China and India. Despite this, 43% of respondents in India and 32% in China also expect to save more in the next four weeks. Net spending intentions in Australia, Japan, and South Korea are negative for all types of more discretionary items.
- John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Accessed 17 May 2021. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
- Deloitte State of the Consumer Tracker. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/retail-distribution/consumer- behavior-trends-state-of-the-consumer-tracker.html