Pandemic Hangover: Consumers Are Wary As They Resume Purchasing

The pandemic may be loosening its grip, at least in some states. But that doesn’t mean consumers are feeling expansive. 

Rather, they feel cautious (43%), mindful (34%) and hesitant (26%) about spending money. And 51% say their current purchases are of essentials only, according to “2-21 Consumer Spending Snapshot,” a study from digital marketing agency Alchemy Worx, conducted with YouGov.

Moreover, they have certain expectations about brand behavior. 

Here’s what turns consumers off the most:

  • Receiving communications from a brand after opting out or unsubscribing – 39%
  • Being lied to about sales or stock levels to try and convince them to make a purchase – 37%
  • Receiving too many emails from a brand – 35%
  • Receiving too many text messages from a brand – 34%
  • Items arriving so late that they forgot purchasing them – 34%



If there’s a surprise here, it’s that so few consumers resent being sent messages after opting out. But don’t think you can get away with it: Brands that commit this offense are violating of CAN-SPAM and any number of state and overseas laws. 

The lesson is that brands shouldn’t  simply have an unsubscribe button when it comes to communication, the study says. 

These are not the only issues. Another 27% are avoiding brands that they do not consider ethical or sustainable.

That attitude is especially prevalent among Gen Zers — 42% feel this way. Yet some are shopping: 20% are planning to finally make a big purchase they’ve been thinking about. 

Millennials have a slightly different focus when it comes to shopping — 25% are planning to make a summer impulse purchase. And these buys will probably be for the home—28% are seeking home accessories and 23% high-end kitchenware. 

GenX — people in the 41-56 age category and are at their career peaks — want to travel: 51% plan to visit family or friends or take a vacation within the next six months. 

And boomers? Of those polled, 51% are planning to make a purchase are doing so for someone else. Only 13% say they are “optimistic” about spending money. 

“What we’re seeing now is a consumer that is simultaneously hesitant to spend but also excited to get back into the world,” states Allan Levy, CEO of Alchemy Worx. 

Levy adds: “While still focused on purchasing the essentials, consumers are eager to begin shopping again, especially for goods that align with their summer plans and perceptions of status.”

YouGov surveyed 1,270 consumers between May 19-20, 2021.The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults, the company says. 


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