COVID-19 pandemic affecting consumers more than 9/11, great recession: survey

Consumers are reacting more intensely to the COVID-19 pandemic than they did to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or the global financial crisis in 2009, according to a survey from the Sports and Leisure Research Group, Engagious and ROKK Solutions. 

The survey asked people when they would be willing or expected to participate in certain activities, and found more pessimistic results today than in similar survey data from the previous crises.

For example, after the 9/11 attacks, half of respondents said they planned to keep their travel spending levels steady for the year. Today, the figure stands at 28 percent. 

Some 44 percent of people in July 2009 said they planned a major vacation during the year, significantly above the 32 percent who said the same in the recent survey

“Having tracked public opinion in this sector for the past 29 years, the present COVID-19 crisis has generated the strongest headwinds,” said Jon Last, president of the Sports and Leisure Research Group.

Three-fourths of respondents also said they’d need multiple assurances before they’d be willing to return to hotels, flights, sports arenas and movie theaters, including an approved vaccine and assurances from media and public health officials that it would be safe to do so.

Similar data has shown that the crisis is likely to leave its marks on consumer behavior. 

Colleen Dilenschneider, a data analyst and expert on cultural organizations, found that people were more likely to consider visiting open leisure venues such as parks, zoos and beaches once the pandemic ends, but less likely to want to visit movie theaters, concert halls or performing arts venues

The online survey was conducted with roughly 500 American adults who said they participated in sports and leisure activities between March 31 and April 1. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. 

The 2009 study was also commissioned by the Sports and Leisure Research Group, while the 2001 study was ordered by the Golf Digest Companies, Last’s previous firm.

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