How COVID-19 Continues to Change Our World
“It’ll be an hour-long wait for the patio, but if you’re okay with a table inside we can seat you now.”
It was a typical Thursday evening. I was out for dinner with the girls, adorned in our cutest summer dresses and medical-grade face masks, when we were faced with the ultimate 2020 test: wait to dine with the peace-of-mind of sitting outdoors or score the immediate gratification of a table inside at the risk of catching COVID.
That’s when it hit me.
As much as we’ve all been waiting and hoping for the world to resume operations, now that it has, we’re afraid to open the door. And if a group of twenty-something girls is willing to wait an hour for an overpriced glass of chardonnay and a pizza, what else has the pandemic changed?
Pandemic! At the Disco
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the world as we knew it. Because of this period of contagion, self-isolation, and economic uncertainty, people are living differently, buying differently, and in many ways, thinking differently. While it’s still unclear how long this ‘new normal’ is going to last, one thing is certain: life has been profoundly altered, from the way we approach work and leisure to the way we consume products and services.
And despite a spike in search interest around ‘boredom’, consumers are in no hurry to re-enter the marketplace.
We’re taking a cautionary approach to everything we do, causing a seismic shift from overindulgence to value and essentials. Even as we tread lightly into Phase Three of the pandemic, there’s no end in sight. And as 75% of Canadians say their personal income has or will be impacted by the coronavirus, we’re being more and more mindful about our spending habits: 31% of surveyed consumers are changing to less expensive products to save money while 21% are researching brand and product choices before buying. As we hunker down for a prolonged period of financial uncertainty, we’re prioritizing our immediate needs, like grocery and household supplies, and cutting back on discretionary spending. As consumer priorities become centred on our most basic essentials, loyalty and proximity will take a backseat to retailers with visible safety measures such as enhanced cleaning and physical barriers. But this shock to loyalty goes beyond where we spend to how we spend. Over 60% of global consumers have changed their shopping behaviour, many of them for convenience and value. We’re flooding to the internet, sending ecommerce through the roof, and adopting contactless services — including pickup, delivery, and drive-throughs — that will likely remain a go-to even after the pandemic is over.
The world might be trying to reopen its doors, but we as consumers aren’t yet ready to crack the proverbial window. For more than three-quarters of respondents who adjusted their behaviours due to the health crisis, the easing of government restrictions won’t be enough to entice them back into the marketplace. Instead, we’ll hunker down and wait for a vaccine. But in the meantime, we’ll shop online, bake banana bread, and find comfort in being “alone together”.