April 5, 2021
When Will Consumers Feel Comfortable Returning to Normalcy?

In this week's picture: we look at the uneven recovery across away from home activities that vary by consumers' comfort.

How comfortable are consumers away-from-home today? : The answers vary by activity and demographic according to a recent Numerator survey. But one thing is clear: not many are comfortable going to a bar or a club right now. Among those already vaccinated, those waiting their turn to be vaccinated, and those who refuse to be vaccinated, going to a bar/club ranked the lowest for all demographics in activities they feel comfortable doing now. The anti-vaccination crowd, the cohort most comfortable doing almost all activities, isn't even 40% comfortable going to a bar or a club--even though >60% of that same demographic is comfortable indoor dining without masks, outdoor dining, traveling, and staying in a hotel.

What about AFH that isn't bars/restaurants?: Restaurants, bars and QSR make up the largest share of AFH food dollars (~70%); according Technomic, the remaining ~30% is composed of other channels like travel & leisure (6%), healthcare centers (4%), education facilities (4%), supermarkets (5%) and more. While we expect in-person school to resume this fall, we see other channels possibly slower to come back. For example, after bars/clubs, the next least comfortable activity is flying, with not a single demographic at 50% (the vaccine friendly cohorts are <30%). Less than 50% of the vaccine friendly cohorts--including those already vaccinated--are comfortable traveling for leisure.

So what is the clearing event and what happens until then?: We think this data shows some tailwinds for continued at-home consumption, particularly in beverage alcohol given comfort to return to a bar/ club is so low. We also see respondents' comfort on gathering with others while wearing masks (all >60%), and outdoor dining (all >50%). We think the benefits here are clear for outdoor dining as well as outdoor gatherings at home. When will it normalize? For those who not yet vaccinated (but plan to be), the clearing event is obvious: once they receive the vaccine (73%) and we expect this group to represent a majority of the US. Of those already vaccinated, almost 60% are still waiting for experts to say it is safe; only 9% feel comfortable returning to pre-COVID activities now despite being fully vaccinated.


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