COVID-19: The Impact on Consumers Across the Country

Filed Under: Best Practices, COVID, Market Research


In early April (April 3-6), during the third week of the Stay-At-Home order here in Chicago, C+R Research did a quick quantitative check in with consumers. We wanted to understand how COVID-19 was impacting their lives at that point. This quantitative study became a part of the Consumer Connections series we’ve been doing to listen to consumers and their ever-changing and possibly different needs during the time of this pandemic. After all, we’re all in the same storm, but we may have different boats!

We spoke to 302 people from across the country. Working with our sample partner, Dynata, we ensured a representative group of consumers across ages, genders, ethnicities, regions, and incomes. Below are some of the more obvious and some of the more interesting findings from this research. And here, you’ll find a shareable infographic of some of these facts.


  • Not surprisingly, the economy is the top concern for consumers, and it’s having the greatest impact on them as well. This is true for all consumers, no matter how we sliced the data. 
  • Tied into the economy, financial health also tops the list of things impacting and of concern to consumers. The impact of financial health due to COVID-19 is strongest among the 24% of people we surveyed who have experienced some type of change in their employment status since the start of the pandemic.
  • And, the concerns around the economy are playing out in spending and saving habits.
    • The same number of consumers (about 20%) claim to be saving more than before and spending more than before the pandemic began. 
    • What’s interesting, however, is that twice as many consumers are spending lessthan before, while the same share is saving less (20% claim to be saving less than before while 40% claim to be spending less than before).

Health & Well-Being

  • While the health and well-being of loved ones is the second largest concern after the economy, it is the least likely to have impacted consumers – thankfully!
  • Mental and physical health are also concerning for many – especially among those with kids at home.
  • Many people are still working out, but not everyone has translated their gym workout to an at-home routine.
    • 40% are working out at home more now than before the pandemic, while over half (53%) of people are exercising less at the gym than before the pandemic. I’m definitely one of the 13% in the middle who hasn’t fully made the switch! Maybe tomorrow… 😊

Around the Home 

  • In the realm of obvious facts, “Washing my hands” is the number one thing people are doing more now than they were before the pandemic. 
  • Household chores are taking up more time than before, as well. Consumers are cooking meals and cleaning their homes more. And, in support of that, they’re also doing more online shopping both in general and for groceries.
  • But they’re still trying to find some balance between the chores and the chill-out.
    • Nearly half are streaming TV more now than before.
    • Just under one-third are ordering take-out delivery now more than before the pandemic.
    • And, just under 20% are ordering alcohol online more than they were before. This tends to over-index with parents. (Cheers to you parents! You’ve got this!) 

Overall, times are tough – not just because of the economy, but because we are in an unknown situation – one we’ve never been in before and one with no distinct end date. Behaviors are changing daily, and eventually, some behaviors will be changed permanently. 

Now more than ever, it’s important to listen to consumers. They are overwhelmed and seeking balance in this new normal. Empathize with them. Offer meal ideas, cleaning tips, ways to unwind, and share what you’re doing to help their community. Now more than ever, consumers want to spend money on what they deem is “essential.” Make sure your product delivers on something that resonates with consumers. It doesn’t have to be a lifesaver, but it does have to provide value. 

Finally, we’re here to help you! Through our series, Consumer Connections, we’re listening to consumers and asking them your questions. And, internally, we’ve created a COVID-19 task force to gather information on how to best conduct research during this evolving situation. If you have any questions, please reach out to chat with us! We’d love to share what we know and help you make the best decision for your research needs at this time.

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