Irish consumers keen to return to in-person activities – Deloitte report

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Irish consumers keen to return to in-person activities – Deloitte report

There has been a further increase in Irish consumers’ confidence in returning to in-person activities, according to Deloitte Ireland’s latest State of the Consumer Tracker. For the second consecutive month, the survey recorded increases in consumer confidence in visiting physical stores (up 4%), engaging in person-to-person services (up 4%), going to a restaurant (up 4%) and attending in-person events (up 6%), while concerns around returning to the workplace were down by 4%.

Deloitte’s State of the Consumer Tracker is a monthly survey which tracks Irish consumers’ attitudes towards personal wellbeing, financial concerns, travel and hospitality, transport and retail. The results are based on a survey of 1,000 consumers across 19 countries respectively (1,000 Irish consumers).

The most recent data was gathered between 25 and 31 March, as the country remained under full Level 5 restrictions.

Commenting on the latest results, Daniel Murray, Partner and Head of Consumer at Deloitte Ireland, said, “As the vaccine rollout gathers momentum and the reopening of many sectors is firmly back on the agenda, it is very encouraging to see that Irish consumers are feeling safer at the prospect of engaging in in-person activities. As more people get vaccinated, consumer confidence will grow as we move forward and, hopefully, continue to move away from heavy restrictions and towards a new, post-pandemic Ireland.

“With many sectors remaining shut for now, however, and hundreds of thousands still forced to rely on welfare supports, an increase in consumers’ concerns around their financial circumstances as we look to reopening, is not unexpected. The supports that the Government has provided to businesses and people alike have been a lifeline to many over the last year, so the transition away from these supports must be considered carefully to give everyone the best chance at a swift return to stability.”

Concerns and spending intent
Consumers’ concerns around financial issues and employment saw an increase when compared to the previous wave of research, conducted four weeks prior. Concern around making upcoming payments increased by 6%, with concern around job loss up by 3%.

Despite the increase in financial concern, consumers’ concerns around health decreased. Overall concern for their own physical wellbeing decreased by 3% and concern around the health of their families was down by 1%. Concern around returning to the workplace was down by 4%.

Consumers report that they feel safer visiting physical stores (up 4%), engaging in person-to-person services (up 4%), going to a restaurant (up 4%) and attending in-person events (up 6%).

The latest survey recorded a 5% increase in intent to spend on household goods. There was a 3% increase in spending on medicines, with a 7% increase on spending on clothing and footwear and a 3% decrease in spending on cable TV.

In general, an increase was recorded in spending intention on more discretionary items, such as alcohol and electronics (both up 2%), and furnishings (up 5%). An increase was also recorded in consumers intending to spend on non-essential items (up 5%).

Travel, hospitality & tourism
A strong increase was recorded in consumers’ intention to spend on travel, up 6% on the previous wave. Confidence in air travel also increased by 4%, while confidence in staying in hotels increased by 3%. There were increases across the board in those planning to travel for leisure over the next three months, with those intending to travel by rail up by 7%; those intending to avail of private holiday accommodation up by 6%; those intending to rent a car for leisure travel up by 5%; and those intending to take an international flight up by 5%.

Increases were recorded in consumer sentiment towards purchasing a vehicle online (up 4%) and in those putting off regular vehicle maintenance (up 3%). There was a decrease in the number of consumers planning to limit their use of public transport over the next three months (down 4%).

A decrease was noted in the number of consumers who stated that their car is fine and doesn’t need to be replaced, down by 6% compared to the previous wave. There was also a 3% decrease in consumers stating they “plan to drive less often” as a reason for keeping their current vehicle longer than expected, with a 3% increase in the number of consumers citing “working from home” as a reason to keep their current vehicle for longer than expected.

Digital transformation
A significant number of consumers now cite online as their preferred shopping channel across a number of categories: 60% say they would prefer to shop online, rather than in-store, for clothing and footwear, compared to 42% six months previously, in October 2020; 54% would prefer to shop online for electronics, up from 45% in October; 46% would prefer to shop online for furnishings, up from 30% in October; and 55% would prefer to shop online from restaurants / take-aways, up from 40% in October.

In addition to this, Deloitte notes the consistent presence of the convenience-seeking consumer, with an increase of 3% recorded in the number of consumers stating that they would be happy to spend more on convenience, compared to the previous wave of research.

Murray commented: “While there is no doubt that consumers are keen to return to in-person activities once given the chance, as we look back over a year of our State of the Consumer Tracker reports, it is very clear that the rapid digital adoption we have witnessed won’t just be reversed once restrictions are a thing of the past. Forced to go online where they mightn’t have otherwise, consumers have been exposed to the many benefits of digital – at both national and global level – and the way that many engage with businesses has changed for good.”

Article Published: 28/04/2021