Insight

Consumer pulse survey report | July 2020

How does the new normal continue to impact U.S. consumers? What purchasing trends are surfacing for the holiday season?

Scott Rankin

Scott Rankin

Principal, Advisory, National Consumer & Retail Strategy Leader, KPMG US

Mark Schmeling

Mark Schmeling

National Sector Leader, Consumer & Retail, KPMG US

+1 312-665-2620

Julia Wilson

Julia Wilson

Managing Director, Deal Advisory, KPMG US

+1 404-222-3511

In July 2020, KPMG polled 1000 consumers across the U.S. to learn about the effects of COVID-19 on their income, employment and mobility; their sentiments around the economy; and their predictions for spending in the fall.

The road to recovery appears long

The level of optimism among U.S. consumers and their anticipation of a return to spending are trending downward. With each of our consumer pulse surveys since April 2020, an increasing percentage of respondents think the recovery will take two or more years. Regional sentiment varies, with pessimism highest in the West.

 

Temporary impacts to employment status are becoming permanent

Approximately one third (34%) of our July survey respondents said their employment status had been impacted by COVID-19, similar to what was reported in June.

However, the kinds of impact are evolving. In April, almost 60% of respondents whose position had been impacted said they were furloughed. In July, far fewer of those impacted said they are furloughed while a much higher percentage said their position was eliminated. Companies are “right sizing” their organizations for the new reality.

 

Impact on employment status

Note(s): (a) KPMG conducted three surveys of 1,000 consumers across the United States, and in all instances they were asked the questions, “Was your employment impacted  by COVID-19” and “Please describe impact to employment”.  (b) Regarding the type of impact to employment status, “Other” includes those who switched from full time to part time, hours were reduced and a small group of those who started work due to COVID-19.

Source(s): (1) KPMG Consumer survey, fielded April 27, 2020 – April 30, 2020 (2) KPMG Consumer survey, fielded June 4, 2020 – June 8, 2020 (3) KPMG Consumer survey, fielded July 20, 2020 – July 24, 2020

COVID-19’s impact on consumer mobility

We are starting to see consumer mobility trends that could be on par with generational shifts seen in the industrial revolution. Across the board, consumers are working, learning, and buying things from home. More than 60% of July survey respondents continue to work remotely either full time or part of the time because of COVID-19. More than 25% of July survey respondents with children say their children will be using a virtual learning environment in the fall.

 

Twenty-one percent (21%) of respondents in our July survey either recently moved or plan to move soon, with the majority of those indicating that COVID-19 influenced that decision.

 

Residential changes due to COVID-19

 

Note(s): (a) KPMG conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers across the United States and they were asked the questions, “Have you moved in the last three months or are you planning to move?”, “If you moved or are planning to move, please indicate the level to which COVID-19 impacted your decision:”, and “You indicated that you moved or are planning to move as a result of COVID-19, please indicate all that apply:”

Source(s): (1) KPMG Consumer survey, fielded July 20, 2020 – July 24, 2020

Anticipated consumer spending

Holiday

Almost 80% of July survey participants said they will make purchases around the winter holidays including Christmas, Hanukah or just to benefit from end of year promotions. While the majority plan to start their holiday shopping in November and December (38% and 12% respectively), 11% plan to start making purchases in August or even earlier.

With the exception of computers and hardware, consumers responding to our July survey expect to spend less this winter across the board on key categories like clothing and accessories, electronics and furniture. Fifty-five percent (55%) of purchases are expected to be made online, compared to 45% made in the winter of 2019. Consumers will be looking for discounts, free shipping and competitive prices—the top three factors cited for making a purchase decision.

Average holiday spend ($)

Note(s): (a) KPMG conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers across the United States and they were asked the question, “How much do you typically spend on the following categories as part of your winter purchases?”

Source(s): (1) KPMG Consumer survey, fielded July 20, 2020 – July 24, 2020

Consumer archetypes

In our April 2020 survey, we introduced four archetypes based on consumers’ behaviors associated with COVID-19. We continue to watch how these groups evolve. From June to July, there was very little change. Read the appendix of our report below to learn about the demographics and attitudes of each. 

 

16%

"Hit hard and cutting deep"

(unchanged)

44%

"Proceeding with caution"

(up 2%)

23%

"Hunkered down and saving"

(down 2%)

17%

"Ready to roll"

(unchanged)


The KPMG consumer pulse survey series explores key, emerging themes around consumer behaviors, purchasing patterns and the economy. Each survey asks 1,000 U.S. consumers, representing all demographics, timely questions about upcoming purchases and economic conditions. We conduct the surveys to help our clients understand consumers, uncover the signals of permanent change and create basis for transforming their businesses to meet customers where they are.

KPMG Consumer pulse survey report | July 2020
How does the new normal continue to impact U.S. consumers? What purchasing trends are surfacing for the holiday season?