Weekly Consumer Insights: Summer Travel, Online Retail & Fitness – May 11

In this week’s Harris Poll COVID-19 Tracker we see some clarity emerging as to how American life may be fundamentally altered as a result of coronavirus; 75% say they feel more gratitude toward others, 82% say the most patriotic thing we can do right now is to make a national sacrifice to stay home for the welfare of others; only 49% of Americans said they’d be willing to go back to the office immediately or within the first month of restrictions lifting; and 49% say they will be doing more online retail shopping for the foreseeable future.


No-Fly Zone - Airlines need to think about ‘early adopters’ who will come back first and set the tone for others. To woo them back, both safety and efficiency will need to be addressed to meet the needs of high-status business travelers, Gen Z leisure travelers, and higher-income households.

  • Air carriers are expected to lose more than $300 billion of revenue this year and the prospects of getting flyers back are hampered by (in our new survey) passenger reluctance to accept half-measures of hygiene:
    • Despite new mask policies by JetBlue and others this week, half of Americans (48%) say even given that they will not feel comfortable flying until the pandemic is fully over.
    • 28% say if the required mask policy is mixed with additional safety and sanitation measures, it would make them feel comfortable to fly again. As we urge, think of safety as a customer journey.

Summer Trends: close-to-home staycations, coupled with online gift splurging – Considering the above details re: air travel, exploring close-to-home attractions is on the mind of many Americans.

  • Vacation planning is up nearly ten percentage points (33%) and venturing out is correlated with distance and familiarity, suggesting road trips over long flights and nature/wilderness over urban destinations may be this summer’s trend.
  • 43% of parents feel regret for the emotional toll the crisis has taken on their families during stay-at-home and are planning major gift purchases.
  • Online shopping is continuing to accelerate; 49% say they will be doing more online retail shopping for items such as clothing, as restrictions lift and businesses begin to open.

*Consider promoting local fishing and boating opportunities in your community, and gear and equipment purchases as a means to make family memories close to home!

No More Open-Offices? - American workers demand their safety before returning to the office and employers will have to reconfigure workspaces and floor plans accordingly.

  • 80% of Americans agree that employers should move towards sectioned-off offices and phase-out open-floor plans to ensure social distancing.
  • While a majority of Americans are hesitant to return to the office, a third of Gen Z/Millennials office workers will return at least a few days per week when allowed so as to reduce interaction with others. Overall, 78% agree that employers should stagger when employees are allowed to work from the office to ensure social distancing.
  • 88% think employers must have clear guidelines outlining safety precautions before they allow employees to return to the office.
  • 83% say employees should be allowed to work-from-home during the pandemic until they feel comfortable to return to the office.

Fitness Behaviors Shift - Both online and offline physical activity fuel feelings of hopefulness, relaxation, and a general sense of well-being.

  • 45% of Americans are exercising more over the past month; parents and affluent households most likely to be part of this fitness boom.
  • Tech-enabled fitness is on the rise and 27% of Americans have increased their usage of virtual fitness tools, but non-fitness results are mixed: while these online classes & services do fuel a sense of well-being and motivation, they come with a potential downside - they are more anxiety-producing than offline fitness.
  • However, tech can’t replace the need to get outside: As Americans search for ways to reduce anxiety and feel motivated and productive, they are finding outdoor exercise is one of the best cures - positively impacting mental state more than any tech-enabled behavior examined.

*This is a good opportunity to communicate the health and wellness benefits associated with fishing and boating.

Gaming on The Rise - Online gaming is unsurprisingly on the rise, but it’s causing almost as many problems as it is solving. As consumers look to find both entertainment and connection via gaming-based online interactions, brands stand to gain by enabling authentic connection and messages of wellness and good habits.

  • 18% of Americans have increased their engagement with online gaming in the past month.
  • Gaming-based platforms DO provide a sense of relaxation and reduced anxiety for many but are equally as likely to increase loneliness as to decrease it. Further, gaming is a top contributor to sleep disturbances and poor dietary habits.

RBFF receives these weekly consumer insights from its partners at Colle McVoy. This study was fielded online among a nationally representative sample of 2,039 U.S. adults between May 1 - 3, 2020.

Stay tuned to the RBFF Blog for additional weekly consumer insights related to COVID-19.