Consumer pulse survey report | COVID-19

A survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers in late April 2020 reveals the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on spending.

Scott Rankin

Scott Rankin

US Strategy Service Line Leader, Deal Advisory & Strategy, KPMG LLP

+1 617-988-1474

Mark Schmeling

Mark Schmeling

National Sector Leader, Consumer & Retail, KPMG US

+1 312-665-2620

Julia Wilson

Julia Wilson

Principal, Advisory Strategy and ESG, KPMG US

+1 404-222-3511

While COVID-19 has had an immeasurable impact on the daily lives of consumers across the US, the impact for Consumer & Retail companies has varied significantly depending on the type of consumer, product set and channels these companies serve. As consumer-facing organizations adapt to the “new normal,” it is important to understand that the consumer is evolving at a rapid speed. To help our clients understand and predict what lasting impacts the current environment may have, check back for updates to our consumer pulse survey which provides a vital lens into the retail landscape through the eyes of the consumer.

There may be tough choices that lie ahead, but as is the case with many disruptive events, there is also significant opportunity for innovation, reinvention and success. The key will be to stay close to the consumer, uncover the signals of permanent change and transform your business to meet customers where they are, in the new normal.


Three key themes from our consumer survey


Consumers have been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and have uncertainty about  the recovery

  • Almost half have had their income negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic
  • Wide range of views on recovery: both when economy and consumer spending returns to normal
  • Significant shift in spending away from discretionary categories during lockdown
  • Most consumers will not return to their “pre-COVID-19” routine until a vaccine is found



Four key consumer archetypes have emerged

  • “Hit hard and cutting deep” (~23% of our respondents): Heavily impacted by job loss and reduction of income. They were also in a difficult financial position prior to the pandemic.
  • “Proceed with caution” (~45% of our respondents): Less impacted by job loss but bearish on economic recovery. Still have not altered spend dramatically.
  • “Hunker down and save” (~27% of our respondents): Relatively affluent and most concerned with the economy. They are saving more and spending less on discretionary categories.
  • “Ready to roll” (5% of our respondents): Youngest group, spending more across categories despite some concern over the economy


Lasting changes regarding where and how consumers spend are underway

  • To maintain social distancing, consumers migrated online and plan to stay online
  • Online shift is favoring scaled players (e.g., Amazon and Walmart)
  • Post lockdown, consumers expect to engage in smaller group activities like “seeing friends”
  • However, businesses will have to make changes to attract customers (e.g., increase table spacing in restaurants, have staff wear masks)


We found that over 11% of survey respondents were not working as a result of COVID-19; of the total survey population, almost half had income negatively impacted


Percentage of survey not working because of COVID-19

Percentage of survey whose income was negatively impacted by COVID-19

Note(s):  KPMG conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers across the United States and they were asked the question, “Please describe you current working arrangement” and “Please estimate the percentage reduction of your household income caused by COVID-19.


Four consumer archetypes are emerging with different levels of optimism


Four consumer archetypes emerged from our research





 “Hit hard and cutting deep”





“Proceed with caution”






“Hunker down and save”




“Ready to roll”



Characteristics of archetypes

Description Avg. age Avg. income



  • Survey population that has been hardest hit by COVID-19
  • Was less able to deal with circumstances prior to pandemic
  • Spending significantly less across categories
  • Not optimistic about the future
51 ~45,000



  • Survey population also impacted by COVID-19 but not as significantly economically and still concerned about future
  • Moderate income prior to pandemic, spending about the same
  • Most unsure about the future
44 ~60,000



  • Not necessarily directly impacted by COVID-19
  • Most financially able to deal with pandemic
  • Spending less given concern for economic outlook
  • More pessimistic about the future
53 ~110,000



  • Not directly impacted by COVID-19
  • Moderate income, spending more across categories
  • Most optimistic about the future, eager for social activities, but will still modify behaviors to maintain social distancing
33 ~65,000


Activities consumers are likely to do once “stay at home” mandates are lifted



Activities consumers are unlikely to do once “stay at home” mandates are lifted


Note(s): KPMG conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers across the United States and they were asked the question, “What are the top three things you are looking forward to doing once “shelter in place” or “stay at home” mandates are lifted?” They were also asked, “What are the three things are you least likely to do once “shelter in place” or “stay at home” mandates are lifted?”


Read the report

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.