Management consulting firm
McKinsey is conducting weekly online surveys of consumers in the United States
to guage their optimism and intent to spend across more than 30 categories.
The latest data, from a survey
of about 3,000 consumers May 11 to 17, shows that all travel categories – short-term
home rentals, hotel/resort stays, adventure & tours, cruises, travel by
car, domestic flights and international flights – are at the bottom of the list
for “intent to spend” over the next two weeks compared to respondents’ spendng
on those things before the COVID-19 crisis.
And while for some
categories, such as dining, entertainment and personal care services the intent
to spend has improved since the first survey in March, for travel it has
decreased for all sectors except “travel by car,” with short-term rentals
seeing the sharpest decline.
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“You do see across all this data increased reticence for consumers
to resume travel versus other day-to-day activities and versus spend on discretionary
categories that was quite depressive at the beginning but is starting to come
back,” says Tamara Charm, senior expert at McKinsey.
The survey is also assessing whether
consumers expect to make changes to their behaviors once the COVID-19 situation
has subsided, in an effort to guage the what the “next normal” will look like.
Respondents indicate they intend
to reduce in-person activities, such as domestic and international travel,
compared to the amount of time they spent doing that before the crisis.
“Consumers are not great at telling us this with accuracy,
but we wanted a sense of what they are thinking right now, and we do see
international travel has one of the highest percentages of consumers saying
they will decrease post-COVID relative to pre the crisis,” Charm says.
In the prior week’s survey,
McKinsey also asked respondents to rank their top requirements for returning to
activities such as traveling by plane, using ride-share or driving more than two
hours from home. For driving and ride-share, “government lifts restrictions”
received the most votes, while for air travel it was “there is a vaccine.”
“What we see from this
data, [travel by airplane] this is a category where having a treatment or
vaccine is more important relatively to something like retail shopping or
working outside the home or even going to a hair salon,” Charm says.
“I think we can say from this data, air travel to consumers
does feel riskier from an infection standpoint.”