The latest consumer insights on COVID-19 and vaccines

As we near the year's end, we are truly ready for 2020 to be over and hopeful that 2021 holds better news. With that in mind, let's look at our latest insights from last week to see how consumer behavior and sentiment is changing in response to the virus.
COVID-19 fear is on the rise, reversing last week's trend
In a survey that we've been fielding to the general population since March, we asked, "What best describes your current perception about the coronavirus?"
Respondents chose an answer ranging from least concerned, "No one should be concerned about it as it will blow over soon" - to most concerned, "It's an even bigger threat than people realize."
There was an uptick in concern level last week, with a combined +4 percentage point increase in people choosing either of the two most severe options. 

This is a reversal of last week's trend of declining concern levels, which was likely due to good news about vaccine distribution. Perhaps the more recent media stories about a mutated strain of COVID-19 appearing in the UK are driving this increased concern level.
Significantly fewer people expect a "return to normal" within the next 6 months
Our daily survey also asks consumers when they expect an end to lockdowns/restrictions and a return to "normal" daily activity.
There appears to be some polarization occurring: fewer people think things will go back to normal within exactly 6 months, but more people think things will return to normal in less time and more time than 6 months.


This polarization may be related to our next survey finding, which asked people about their plans to get vaccinated.

Less than half of the population plans to get vaccinated

When asked whether they expect to take a COVID-19 vaccine within the first few months it becomes available, 48% of respondents said yes.

50% are optimistic about herd immunity and believe that enough of the U.S. population will get vaccinated to successfully control the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic.

Certain demographics are more reluctant to get vaccinated

African American people and women are less likely to take a vaccine within the first few months it becomes available.

On the other hand, older people skew towards being receptive to getting the vaccine, which makes sense given they are higher-risk. 

Bar & Restaurant foot traffic is stagnating as we head into the winter months
Total volume of foot traffic in the West region continues to lag the rest of the country. The Northeast region has also dipped below the national average recently, as cold weather makes outdoor dining more difficult. The South region is now outpacing the national average by the greatest proportion, as relatively low case counts and warm weather persist.

What's influencing food decisions?
Compared to the prior week, more people responded that restaurant closures and out-of-stock groceries impacted their food decisions. Fewer people reported that their lack of a work commute impacted food decisions - possibly because many people took time off during the holidays.

How do people plan to source their food?
Last week, the biggest change of plans in sourcing food was a +5 ppt increase in people planning to shop at grocery stores.
Off-premise restaurant dining options like drive-thru, curbside pickup, and delivery also saw increases. 
In short, making food at home and dining off-premise don't appear to be going anywhere soon. Given that consumers expect COVID-19 restrictions to remain for at least several months and many don't plan to get vaccinated right away, restaurants should have a plan for investing in operational convenience that allows for easy and safe off-prem dining.