As part of an ongoing survey, a report, the Babbage Pulse, demonstrates retail recovery will depend on how different communities have responded to the seriousness of the virus and sheltering in place. Babbage Pulse was created by Alexander Babbage, a leading national research firm. Consumers have been tracked weekly since March 20 to determine changes in consumption, attitudes and trends during the pandemic.
“Now that states are starting to open up in this fragile economy, it is critical that businesses that reopen, do so at the right time,” said Alan McKeon president and CEO of Alexander Babbage. “Retailers operating in areas that are still reluctant to end their shelter-in-place should treat their businesses and customers differently than those areas where people have been more lax regarding socializing, safe distancing, wearing masks, etc.”
Alexander Babbage is a full-service location-based analytics and insights firm with more than 20 years of experience measuring and closing the gap between client market share and client market potential. The firm believes better results come from better decisions. And better decisions come from understanding customers, geographic markets and opportunities.
Geographic Location Matters
“The differences can be subtle,” McKeon explained. “If you open your store/restaurant/retail center in a market where 40 percent of consumers never leave their home, you will be less successful than in the store/restaurants/retail center where 30 percent never leave home. The two markets are probably in the same state, just exhibiting different consumer behavior. The difference between the two could mean success or failure in this economy.”
The report looked at consumers across the country. It found there are areas where residents’ attitudes are significantly different toward COVID-19 than their overall state. So, while their Governors might be opening-up or extending shelter-in-place, communities across the country were at odds with their state’s protocol.
A Difference in Political Parties
While the report shows a majority of Americans still believe that it’s too early to open up, those who are most willing to get back to shopping, dining and work were divided by party, age and race. It makes sense that those who are more worried about the virus are those who have been most impacted—older Americans, African Americans and Latinxs, as the report indicates. When the respondents were assessed by political preferences, 51 percent of Republicans were confident that people like them, who contract COVID-19, will make a full recovery. Compared to less than 32 percent of Democrats.
The majority of Republicans and Democrats agreed that improved health practices need to remain after post shelter-in-place orders; however, there were measurable differences between the two groups with Republicans less likely to think places should be constantly cleaned, social distancing should remain and they did not think employees should still be required to wear masks.
Key findings in the report included:
- Destinations should plan their re-entry strategies around Millennials and Gen X consumers while assessing how to assure boomers of their personal safety.
- Shelter in place restrictions are decided at the state level, but consumer behavior is determined by their beliefs. These vary widely by generation and political affiliation.
- Destinations should look to the composition and behavior of their trade areas in making individual re-opening decisions.