As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and accessibility ramp up around the country, consumers are seeing a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, indicating a return to normalcy. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) conducts regular surveys to determine consumer outlook as it applies to coronavirus. In the organization’s Coronavirus Consumer Survey conducted between March 5-7, 2021, 48 percent of respondents who planned to be fully vaccinated (78 percent of total survey respondents) said they will likely return to doing everything they did before the pandemic without fear of COVID-19.
These numbers, while hopeful, show there’s still progress to be made in ensuring the public is ready to return to normal activities. For retailers, this means e-commerce and contactless options are still important, but they should be gearing up to revive their physical stores if they haven’t already: After getting vaccinated, 52 percent of respondents said they already have or likely will cut back on online orders as they become more comfortable visiting stores. The February 12-14 version of ICSC’s Coronavirus Consumer Survey indicated that 73 percent of respondents agree that brick-and-mortar stores offer an experience that a website cannot replicate.
Respondents have gradually expressed interest in reentering society, but for some activities such as visiting a theater or working out, comfortability numbers are still low. For designers, this means more opportunities for at-home entertainment and gyms, as well as the continuing trend to spend more time at home calling for livable, multifunctional spaces.
The outlook for when normalcy will return also varies among consumers. At the time of the survey, 48 percent of all consumers engaged in a normal level of activity outside the home. Of those not behaving normally, 49 percent planned to be back to normal by Labor Day, while 30 percent expected to be back to normal in 2022 or beyond.