Some Consumers Are Pausing Purchases During COVID-19

Some consumers are refraining from buying items they might have been eyeing before as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly big-ticket purchases.

According to March 2020 GlobalWebIndex data, nearly a third of US internet users ages 16 to 64 have delayed booking any vacations. Another quarter of respondents have held off on purchasing flights, and slightly fewer have held off buying concert or theater tickets.

That’s not surprising given that travel bans have been enacted, and consumers are practicing social distancing. No one is certain how long the coronavirus will last or of the financial impact it may have on households and businesses.

Separate data from Ipsos and USA Today mirrors GlobalWebIndex's findings. Some 10% of US adults said they've already delayed a major purchase, and slightly more respondents (13%) said they plan to.

That’s not to say consumers aren’t making any purchases. A large share of GlobalWebIndex respondents said they haven’t delayed purchasing any items indicated in the survey as a result of the pandemic. Only a handful said they’re delaying purchases on necessities, including day-to-day items and insurance—an indication that everyday items are still a priority for many.

When asked when they plan to buy the items they have put on hold, a good number of US internet users said they’re waiting for the outbreak to subside, per GlobalWebIndex. Some 15% of respondents said they plan to make those purchases when the outbreak is over in their country; 14% said they’ll do so when the outbreak begins to decrease in their country; and 7% plan to do so when the outbreak is over globally.

The coronavirus is also changing where consumers shop. According to a February 2020 survey from Coresight Research, more consumers are cautious about making purchases, especially in public places like malls and brick-and-mortar stores. Nearly half (47%) of US internet users ages 18 and older said they’re avoiding shopping centers and malls now and if the outbreak worsens; 74.6% of respondents said they’ll avoid those places altogether.