Consumers still hesitant to change spending habits even with vaccine roll out, Nielsen reports

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Economies around the world have been impacted by COVID-19 and vaccines have been touted as the fix to return to pre-pandemic economic stability. However, nearly two thirds  (64%) of surveyed consumers around the world said they won’t take an approved COVID-19 vaccine immediately when it’s available, according to a survey from NielsenIQ. Revealed today, these survey results highlight consumer hesitation toward immediately changing spending habits even as the rollout gains ground.

Dissemination of approved vaccines provides hope, but economic recovery requires a rebound from the deeply cautious approach that many consumers have taken toward spending during the pandemic. For the most part, wide availability of the vaccine will give some consumers confidence to increase their spending levels—for example, 16% expect to spend more on groceries, compared with 12% who will spend less and the vast majority who will spend the same. Yet, to date, 72% of consumers have been consciously watching what they now spend because of the impact of COVID-19, suggesting significant ground to make up in reversing consumer habits and attitudes as the world embarks on achieving herd immunity.

“The conversation surrounding the vaccine has been dominated by logistics: drug administration approvals, the speed of production rates, countries vying to secure enough doses to vaccinate their populations, and most recently concerns around scaling and speeding up the rollout in countries around the world,” said Scott McKenzie, global intelligence leader, NielsenIQ. “Confidence levels around the vaccines and the desire to take the vaccines certainly may change as countries begin more concerted rollouts and deliver education campaigns around the vaccines. But clear signals indicate that the arrival of vaccines won’t automatically flip a switch to put the world back on its pre-COVID path.”

Health concerns remain prominent even when vaccines become available, as more than half of consumers lack confidence to dine out (58%), attend live sporting events (65%) or travel overseas (70%) even upon confirmation of the timing when they personally could receive a vaccine. And financial challenges still loom large, with nearly half of consumers (52%) saying they won’t be confident in their personal finances when they learn the timing of getting vaccinated.

In Great Britain, 54% of consumers confirmed they are willing to take Covid-19 vaccine immediately, the highest percentage among 15 countries surveyed globally. When talking about the changes that vaccination will bring into their lives, most consumers express conservative outlooks though: 68% said they wouldn’t be confident in attending shows and sports events and large gatherings even upon confirmation of the timing when they personally could receive a vaccine; 59% would avoid dining out.

Throughout the earlier months of the pandemic, NielsenIQ analysis has dissected how the pandemic has forced many consumers—including both those who are relatively insulated and those who are financially constrained by the pandemic—to reset their shopping baskets, rationale, affordability gauge and homebody approach. And now, as private and governmental forces reckon with the task of producing and rolling out approved vaccine doses, this latest survey, conducted across 15 countries, provides context on the myriad of challenges to returning to pre-pandemic economic stability. Of the majority of consumers who don’t plan to take the vaccine as soon as they’re able to, 41% say they will wait for some time, and 12% say they won’t take it at all. Just over a third (36%) indicated that they will take it right now, while 11% remain undecided.

Conducted in December 2020, NielsenIQ’s Customized Intelligence Business Unit surveying more than 11,000 consumers across 15 countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK and U.S.