Delta Variant Sparks Significant Shifts In Consumer Sentiment, Numerator Reports

Half of Consumers Expect Reopening Delayed Until 2022 or Later

Numerator, a data and tech company serving the market research space, reports a reversal in consumer comfort with reopening activities as concern over the Delta variant leaps. Survey results show the following key findings:

  • Concern over COVID-19 jumped in August as the Delta variant spread. Nearly half (46%) of consumers say that they are highly concerned about COVID, up 10 percentage points from July 2021. More than a quarter (26%) rate their concern a 10/10 – a level not seen since March 2021 (25% of consumers).
  • Half of all consumers are more concerned about the Delta variant than the original strain. 51% say they are specifically concerned about this variant, and 50% are more worried about this variant than they were about the original strain of COVID-19. 3 in 5 consumers (61%) think the Delta variant has the potential to push their region back into lockdowns.
  • Half of vaccinated consumers are worried about being infected. 66% of vaccinated consumers say they are generally worried about the Delta variant, 62% about adult family and friends becoming infected, and 48% on becoming infected themselves.
  • Among consumers who will not get the vaccine, the greatest concerns are focused on mandates, closures and lockdowns. 44% are worried about reimposed or extended mask mandates, 43% on new lockdowns or restrictions, and 32% are concerned about the impact on students returning to schools.

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COVID-19 Concerns by Vaccination Status
Percentage of Consumers Reporting

Concern

Percent of Vaccinated Consumers

Percent of Consumers Who Won’t Get the Vaccine

Delta variant

66%

21%

Adult friends & family becoming infected

62%

29%

Becoming infected myself

48%

28%

Children becoming infected

46%

25%

Impact on students

45%

32%

Lockdowns

41%

43%

Mask mandates

34%

44%

Travel restrictions

30%

27%

None of the above

1%

16%

After two months of increasing comfort levels with many activities and behaviors, consumers are back to feeling cautious, and changing their behaviors as a result:

  • Consumers are less comfortable with indoor activities, particularly shopping mask-less.
    • Consumers indicating they are comfortable shopping without a mask dropped 15 percentage points from July to August
    • Comfort levels decreased significantly in August for attending a concert or show (-13 points), gathering mask-less with friends and family (-11 points), attending in-person classes (-11 points), and eating inside a restaurant (-9 points).
  • Half of consumers now prefer wearing masks in public.
    • More than half of consumers (53%) say they prefer to wear masks in public at this point in time (63% of vaccinated consumers vs 25% of unvaccinated consumers).
    • 46% of consumers say they prefer to shop at retailers that require masks (56% of vaccinated vs 22% of unvaccinated).
    • Over 2 in 5 (43%) think proof of vaccination should be required for public indoor spaces (60% of vaccinated vs 12% of unvaccinated).

Changes in Consumer Comfort Levels: August vs July 2021
% of consumers somewhat or extremely comfortable with activity in August vs July

Activity

Point change from August vs July

Shopping inside a store with no mask

-15 points

Attending a concert or show

-13 points

Gathering with family & friends with no masks

-11 points

Attending in-person classes

-11 points

Eating inside a restaurant

-9 points

Commuting via public transportation

-9 points

Going to a bar or club

-8 points

Flying on an airplane

-7 points

Traveling for leisure

-7 points

Attending religious services

-7 points

Staying at a hotel

-6 points

Eating outside at a restaurant

-5 points

Ordering takeout food

-5 points

Gathering with family & friends with masks

-3 points

With the rise of the Delta variant, consumers have adjusted their expectations for a return to pre-COVID times:

  • Consumers are less optimistic. 1 in 5 consumers (20%) say they are highly optimistic about a return to normal, down from 1 in 3 (33%) at the beginning of the summer.
  • Vaccinated consumers are more optimistic than unvaccinated. Among those who do not plan to get the vaccine, 12% say they are not at all optimistic about a return to normal, compared to 3% of vaccinated consumers.
  • Half of consumers believe reopening is pushed until 2022. Timing expectations for a return to normal have significantly shifted. Nearly half (48%) of consumers say they expect full reopening to be delayed until 2022 or later, up from 23% of consumers who said the same in July and 18% in June.
  • Consumers are returning to COVID behaviors. After steady increases throughout 2021, the number of consumers who said they had resumed pre-COVID behaviors decreased for the first time, dropping from 39% in July to 27% in August.

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*Results are based on a Numerator consumer sentiment survey fielded to 1000+ Numerator panelists on a monthly basis. Data in this release is primarily based on Waves 5 and 6 of the survey, fielded on 7/15/21 and 8/13/21, respectively. Responses are shown at a total level and also broken out by COVID-19 vaccine status and intention, based on Numerator’s Premium Vaccine People Groups.