Alvarez and Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group (CRG) releases today the findings from its latest bi-annual Consumer Sentiment Report, based on a survey of 1,500+ U.S. consumers conducted in February and March 2022, to understand how their sense of optimism, their desire to shop, what they were looking to buy, how they planned to use different shopping channels, has changed since the Fall, particularly as they start their journey toward some new form of post-pandemic normalcy.
The survey was in the field as the Omicron variant faded across the USA, and just before the Ukrainian crisis began. “Our survey shows that consumers are not much more confident than they were in the Fall of last year,” said Jonathan Sharp, Managing Director in Alvarez & Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group, and lead author of the report. He added, “They continue to be focused on basic needs with less frequent shopping trips, and their biggest concern is inflation.”
The survey findings underscore the lasting impact of the pandemic on shopping behaviors. It finds that a vast majority of respondents, 80%, are still sticking with the behavioral changes made during the pandemic. Only 5% of respondents indicated reverting back to pre-pandemic habits when compared to the Fall 2021 survey.
The survey found that 49% of respondents expected things to either get worse or stay the same for their family in the next 6 months. More than half expect to have less or the same amount of money for themselves in the next 6 months. Notes Jonathan Sharp, “Though these represent an improvement from results of the Fall 2021 survey, overall consumer sentiment clearly remains weak.”
Spending reticence has been driven by concerns over inflationary pressures and price increases, which was cited as the #1 barrier to spending, by 49% of respondents. As a result, consumers have increasingly been focusing their spending on basic needs and experiences. As this focus grows, consumers’ spending on indulgence and gifts continue to lose priority.
Majority of consumers also continue to regard shopping as a largely functional rather than leisure pursuit, with 59% of respondents mostly or only shopping when there is something they really need. As a result, they are increasingly bundling shopping missions – shopping less often and buying more items per trip.
In the restaurant and vacation space however, the report points to some evidence that consumers have emerged from pandemic hibernation – most markedly in their out-of-home dining. More than half of respondents have reverted to their pre-pandemic dining frequency. Notably, 18% are dining out even more than they were prior to the pandemic.
Almost half of those surveyed also plan to travel this Spring. “While they may not feel optimistic, consumers are beginning to open their wallets, go on vacation, and eat in restaurants, presenting opportunities for retailers and businesses alike,” says Sharp.
To access the results and read the full Alvarez and Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group Consumer Sentiment Report, please visit:
Alvarez and Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group interviewed 1,578 US adults between Feb 23, 2022 and March 9, 2022. The survey sample was balanced to be representative of the US adult population according to gender, age, ethnicity, income and region.
The Alvarez and Marsal Consumer and Retail Group (CRG) is a management consulting firm that tackles the most complex challenges and advances its clients, people, and communities towards their maximum potential. CRG combines the best of A&M’s broader firm's bias toward action and practicality with deep consumer and retail industry experience. CRG partners with businesses across a wide range of categories including Food & Beverage, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Mass Merchandise, and Apparel & Footwear to drive significant performance improvement.
Alvarez & Marsal Consumer and Retail Group