Nearly 3 in 4 Consumers Expect to Be Doing In-Person Business in Next Year

Nearly 3 in 4 Consumers Expect to Be Doing In-Person Business in Next Year

52% will feel safe going to brick-and-mortar stores within six months
A woman window shopping

Though 2020 forced many Americans to stay physically apart, nearly three-fourths of consumers are hopeful they’ll again make in-person connections in the next year.

Nearly 3 in 4 (72%) consumers said they expect to be doing in-person business within the next year, according to a survey by email marketing company Constant Contact. But many consumers want to see evidence that vaccines are curbing the coronavirus spread before they get too excited.

52% of consumers expect improvements in next 6 months

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to surge, there’s some optimism that better days are on the horizon with the deployment of two vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S. However, consumers — many of whom have been avoiding stores and working from home — have different comfort levels about gathering with other people. When asked when they’d feel safe returning to stores and to the workplace:

  • 52% said within six months
  • 15% said they were already comfortable with the idea

Consumers also are thinking about where they’ll go first when they venture back out. More than 4 in 10 (44%) said they’ll patronize restaurants, markets or grocery stores first. That was followed by:

  • 15% who said professional service businesses, such as hospitals or law offices
  • 14% who said local retail stores

A worsening pandemic would dampen hopes

While consumers are hoping 2021 will be different from last year, many are banking on seeing the pandemic become a lesser threat over time. However, if the pandemic continues to drag on, some respondents have a more pessimistic outlook.

Loneliness is one of the more challenging aspects of social distancing. In fact, a ValuePenguin survey found that more than 1 in 10 Americans were feeling extreme loneliness ahead of the winter holidays, largely because of the pandemic.

If the pandemic doesn’t begin to wane in the near future, this is what people would be most worried about:

  • Staying safe outside of their homes (21%)
  • Impacting their mental health in a negative way (20%)
  • Having few opportunities for socialization or travel (12%)
  • Facing the possibility of new lockdowns (11%)
  • Keeping their overall physical health intact (6%)

Some consumers have made contingency plans if the pandemic continues to drag on. More than half of respondents (52%) said they’d make a major change to their lifestyle if the pandemic continued into this summer. Of those respondents, 19% said they’d start a healthy eating or exercise plan, and 16% said they’d make changes to their living situation by remodeling or relocating.

Methodology: Constant Contact surveyed 5,000 adults between Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, 2020.