Tracking the Return to Normal: Shopping

Morning Consult is tracking how safe consumers feel returning to retail spaces in light of the COVID-19 pandemic
By: Alyssa Meyers


This tracker is part of a series from Morning Consult gauging when consumers will return to normal activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more and sign up for alerts.

Even considering the e-commerce boom during lockdowns, brick-and-mortar shopping is here to stay. But when consumers will feel safe returning to physical stores and shopping malls remains an unanswered question. Below, Morning Consult provides some insights into shoppers’ state of mind.

Morning Consult is tracking pent-up demand and excitement for many of the activities listed on this page. Bookmark this page for weekly updates of these figures, and read our deep dive on which industries will see a post-pandemic boom in consumer demand.


Many Consumers Report Spending More Online During Pandemic: Roughly half (51 percent) said they’re spending more shopping online since the pandemic began in the United States, compared to about one-quarter (26 percent) who said they’re spending more money in general. Generally speaking, 30 percent of U.S. consumers said they’re spending less amid the pandemic, and 38 percent said their overall spending is about the same as it was before the pandemic.

Record-Setting Streak for Comfort With Shopping Malls Ends: Fifty-seven percent of consumers said they’d feel safe at a mall right now, down 1 percentage point from last week, marking the end of seven consecutive weeks during which comfort with the activity reached record highs.

Americans Are More Comfortable Visiting Department Stores, Boutiques Than Malls: Sixty-four percent of Americans said they currently feel safe going to a department store, 7 points higher than the share who said they’d feel comfortable at a mall, a gap that has narrowed since the end of April. A similar share (65 percent) said they currently feel as comfortable shopping at local retailers, no change from last week.

41% of Consumers Are Excited to Get Back to Malls: Despite the accelerated rise of e-commerce amid the pandemic, an option most native to younger generations, millennials are not likely to give up malls entirely once the pandemic is under control. Forty-six percent of millennials said they look forward to returning to malls, compared to 37 percent of baby boomers. Read more here.

Consumers More Likely to Report Spending Less Amid the Pandemic, Except With Online Purchases
Respondents were asked whether they're spending more or less than they usually do since the COVID-19 pandemic started
Respondents were asked whether they're spending more or less online than they usually do since the COVID-19 pandemic started
Survey conducted May 6-8, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults with a margin of error of +/-2%.

Consumer Comfort at Malls Ends Record-Setting Run
The share of respondents who said they feel comfortable going to a shopping mall right now:
Weekly surveys are conducted among roughly 2,200 U.S. adults and have a margin of error of +/-2%.

Shoppers Are More Comfortable in Boutiques, Department Stores Than Malls
Respondents were asked whether they feel comfortable doing the following right now:
Survey conducted May 6-8, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults with a margin of error of +/-2%.

41% of Consumers Are Eager to Resume Shopping at Malls
Adults were asked how excited they are about the opportunity to return to malls once the pandemic is under control and the economy has fully reopened
Survey conducted May 6-8, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults with a margin of error of +/-2%.

Tracking the Return to Normal

When will things return to normal and what will our new normal look like? It’s a question that business, economic and government leaders are grappling with as more and more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

To help answer this complicated question, Morning Consult is tracking how consumer attitudes are shifting across a wide range of categories, from travel to entertainment to dining, to gain greater insight into not only when consumers will be ready to return to their normal activities, but how their habits will be forever changed. We’ll be updating these pages every week with new data and analyses. Sign up for alerts below.


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