BCG: The Consumer Sentiment Series

It’s a nagging feeling that we just can’t move on—that’s how US consumers seem to be experiencing the pandemic today.

On the one hand, concerns over COVID-19 have receded, as only 27% of respondents to our most recent consumer sentiment survey believe that the worst of the pandemic still lies ahead, compared with a high of 77% in March 2020.

But on the other hand, more than 50% of respondents continue to express both worry and frustration about the situation. Their worries focus not only on the potential for a spike in COVID-19 cases or the emergence of a new variant, but also on the impact of the continuing disruption on the economy and on their own finances: 80% of consumers said that they were concerned about the rising prices of goods and services.

Many survey participants have seen significant price increases and expect this inflation to continue next year. As a result, more people—especially those with incomes below $100,000—are reducing the quantity of products they buy, switching to lower-priced brands, and seeking out discounts and promotions. And as economic pressures have intensified, consumers have become more likely to identify economic and financial concerns as reasons for cutting back on activities and spending.