In May, some countries thought the worst of the pandemic was near as they proceeded to reopen. Now, as cases return to peak levels, restrictions are being reimposed, forcing many back into lockdowns. GlobalWebIndex set out to understand how this setback has shaped consumers’ outlook on the pandemic. Its fifth coronavirus research wave, conducted between June 29 and July 2, across 18 countries, reveals changes in purchasing decisions, travel plans and sentiments regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and non-COVID-related advertising. 

Across all markets surveyed, 80 percent of people—particularly Gen Z, millennials and the higher income group—say they’re delaying big purchases because of COVID-19, likely due in part to 60 percent of respondents reporting that the pandemic has affected their job. For example, 27 percent have taken pay cuts and 24 percent have experienced a reduction in hours. Fewer than 10 percent say they’re not making any financial changes.

The number of people who say they’re spending more time consuming entertainment and social media content has sharply declined since the first two waves of GlobalWebIndex’s research. Yet 24 percent of respondents say that after the pandemic is over, they’ll watch more videos, 23 percent will watch more content on streaming services and 20 percent will use social media services and messaging apps more.

Other activities expected to continue post-pandemic include shopping online more often (50 percent), having more family time (29 percent), watching more news coverage (23 percent) and cooking more (23 percent).

Respondents are divided on the reopening of large indoor venues: 40 percent oppose it and the same amount supports it. In the US, 53 percent oppose it and in the UK, 55 percent oppose it.

Based on five activities GlobalWebIndex asked about—cinema, bars, fast-food, restaurants and gyms—nearly 70 percent expect to make changes to how they spend their time outside of the house. Forty-two percent say they’ll eat at restaurants less often and 38 percent will go to the movies less frequently.

Regarding vacations, consumers don’t expect to go anywhere far anytime soon. In the next 12 months, 48 percent of respondents said they’ll take a domestic vacation and 32 percent said they’ll plan a local staycation. Just nine percent would go on a long international trip and 13 percent on a short international trip.

When asked what brands should be doing to support the Black Lives Matter movement, 85 percent said a brand should be doing at least one of the eight initiatives GlobalWebIndex mentioned, with the strongest support for advocating for local and national community initiatives, taking a stand on social media and ensuring diversity in leadership teams. The protests have made racial justice a more important matter for around 20 percent.

Since the outbreak began, marketers have revised or canceled campaigns to avoid appearing tone-deaf. But the survey found that just 13 percent of consumers disapprove of brands advertising as normal. Thirty-six percent approve of brands running COVID-related ads.

A little over half of consumers expressed a strong interest in permanently teleworking. Remote learning is also appealing as 60 percent of Gen Z and millennials are extremely or very interested in enrolling in online learning courses.

Countries that have been able to flatten the curve, including Spain, France and the UK, are recording their lowest levels of concern about their own domestic crises. And despite a resurgence in cases, the US saw a five-point drop since May. Whereas concerns in Australia and China are starting to spike again.

The findings are based on a survey among 15,271 internet users aged 16-64.