With increasing cases of Delta variants, CDC interior mask guidelines negatively impact consumer comfort levels


When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in May that it was safe for vaccinated Americans to go without a mask indoors under most circumstances, levels of comfort with leisure activities increased among adults. Americans, especially those who have been vaccinated, based on Return to Normal trend data from Morning Consult.

Then, on July 27, the CDC somewhat reversed this decision, recommend that fully vaccinated people should resume wearing masks indoors “in areas of high or high transmission”. In light of this news, Morning Consult reporters decided it was time again to analyze the return-to-normal trackers that they update weekly to see where comfort levels currently stand. consumers overall.

It is clear that Americans – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – are nowhere near as uncomfortable engaging in leisure activities in public as they were at the height of the pandemic, but responses gathered via trackers after the latest CDC guidelines show a slight drop in comfort levels compared to the previous week, on average, across more than 40 activities such as shopping in malls, taking vacations and attending events. sporting events and cinemas.

It’s not the first week of declines, however. After remaining broadly stable through 2020, the average comfort level with these activities has generally increased this year, but the tide started to turn in July.

The average comfort level among all adults reached a record high of 55% in a July 8-10 survey, but has declined weekly since then, and is now 6 percentage points below that record. at 49%. At that time, in mid-July, the CDC sounded the alarm on the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country, especially among the unvaccinated.

The comfort of Americans with several activities decreases from July

Share of adults who reported feeling comfortable doing the following activities in mid-July compared to early August

Surveys conducted July 8-10 and August 2-3, 2021, with approximately 2,200 American adults each, with margins of error of +/- 2%.

Average comfort levels in vaccinated and unvaccinated adults followed a similar trajectory, although concerns about the delta variant appear to have a more negative effect on vaccinated consumers, according to trend data.

The average comfort level of vaccinated consumers reached an all-time high of 55 percent in a July 1-4 survey, but fell to 47 percent in early August. The average comfort level among unvaccinated people peaked at 58% in the July 8-10 survey and has now fallen to 52%.

The new mask guidelines also appear to lower the comfort level of vaccinated Americans even further: their average comfort level fell 3 points, from 50% in late July to early August, compared to a 1 point drop among vaccinated Americans. population not vaccinated during this period. .

Comfort in shopping centers

The share of respondents who said they feel comfortable going to a shopping center at the moment

Weekly surveys are conducted of approximately 2,200 American adults and have a margin of error of +/- 2%.

Certain activities, such as shopping in malls, which is right after eat out when it comes to activities people are most comfortable with, saw slightly larger lows this week. Comfort with shopping malls fell 5 points, from 64 percent to 59 percent.

Restaurants have maintained relatively high levels of comfort of consumption throughout the pandemic and recorded a decline of 3 points, from 68% to 65% this week.

Socialization comfort by generation

The share of respondents who said they feel comfortable socializing in public places at the moment

Weekly surveys are conducted of approximately 2,200 American adults and have a margin of error of +/- 2%.

Comfort with socialize in public places and go to the cinema each dropped by 4 points. Morning Consult entertainment reporter Sarah Shevenock pointed out that this week’s data marked a turning point for comfort with theaters, which hit a record 55% just a month ago.

“This week was the first significant drop, the first time it has been below 50% since June 14,” Shevenock said. “The obvious link there is the delta variant, and we’re starting to see studios react to that as well.”

Comfort of going to the cinema

The share of respondents who said they feel comfortable going to the movies at the moment

Weekly surveys are conducted of approximately 2,200 American adults and have a margin of error of +/- 2%.

Last week Paramount Pictures fired “Clifford the big red dog“from its September release date regarding concerns about increasing coronavirus cases, and” this drop in consumer comfort really underscores the fact that this caution is well placed, “Shevenock said.

Retailers, too, are responding to these changes. Large corporations including Target Corp., McDonald’s Corp., Home Depot Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Walmart Inc., all recently announced new pandemic policies, which include mandatory vaccines and masks for employees and encouragement for the use of masks by customers.

The sports world has also been hit by growing concerns over the delta variant, Morning Consult senior reporter Alex Silverman said, with people less and less comfortable attending sporting events since mid-July.

“There has been a drop every week since then among all adults and among sports fans,” Silverman said. “Comfort has tended to increase steadily since March, so it’s not a massive drop, but it’s notable because it’s the first drop since the mass vaccination.”

Last month, all 30 MLB teams returned to full capacity in their stages, but Silverman said that could change if cases continue to climb and comfort levels continue to drop. And with the NFL season around a month away, this league will definitely be paying close attention to the double digits.

Share of American adults and sports fans feeling comfortable watching a game right now

The share of respondents who said they felt comfortable attending a sporting event today

Weekly surveys are conducted of approximately 2,200 American adults and have a margin of error of +/- 2%.

It’s not just comfort levels that have fluctuated in recent times. John Leer, chief economist at Morning Consult, said he noted a similar decrease in consumer confidence since early July. (Consumer confidence measures how people feel about economic conditions, while consumer comfort measures how secure they feel in certain activities.)

“We saw very clearly that when the cases started to rise on July 7, consumer confidence plummeted,” Leer said. “It’s a relationship that has held up during the pandemic, but it’s asymmetric,” meaning that while increases in cases tend to undermine trust, decreases don’t necessarily strengthen it.

Consider COVID-19 as a “serious” health risk in your community

The share of American adults who said the coronavirus is a serious health risk in their local community

Weekly surveys are conducted of approximately 2,200 American adults and have a margin of error of +/- 2%.

The drop is largest among vaccinated consumers, which could be the result of this group’s heightened awareness and fear of the coronavirus, Leer said.

Global concern of COVID-19 at local level is increasing, according to Morning Consult Return to normal tracking on general views of the pandemic, with about 1 in 4 American adults (27%) saying COVID-19 is a “serious” risk to the health of their local community, up 5 points from the end of July.

If these trends continue, the United States could face a subsequent hit in retail sales, according to Leer.

“During the pandemic we have seen a very close correlation between consumer confidence and retail sales,” he said, “so I would expect that if not in July , then in August we will see a decline in retail trade. expenses. “

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