IBM poll: Covid-19’s spread unfurls consumers’ concerns about economy workplace safety

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The enduring Covid-19 global pandemic has affected Americans’ psyche to the extent that 72% said the coronavirus has made them more concerned for their well being and that of their families as well as worries about a second wave coming this year, according to an IBM poll released July 27.

Other issues high on Americans’ worry lists are returning to the workplace along with going to large venues such as malls and utilizing mass transportation.

IBM pollMore than 7,000 U.S. citizens were surveyed this month by IBM Institute for Business Value to determine how the coronavirus – with at least 147,000 dead in the U.S. – has affected their perspectives on the economy and getting back to normal.

IBM pointed out in its July survey that American consumers were a bit more pessimistic than in June. For example, 63% said employers need to clearly tell workers how they are sanitizing their workplaces, up from 54% in June. In addition, 58% said social distancing protocols should be maintained at work, up from 49% who were concerned in June’s survey.

Jesus Mantas, senior managing partner of IBM Services, said Americans’ attitudes are shifting as “the effects of the virus fluctuate around the country, and consumers are preparing themselves for more permanent changes in behavior.”

Mantas said, “These new behaviors define the new preferences that business leaders need to be able to deliver to meet consumers where they are. This is no longer a question of competitive advantage, it’s a matter of business survival.”

Among the findings of the July survey:

  • 41% feel strongly that their employer should provide special accommodations for individuals to address childcare needs – up 6 percentage points since the previous month;
  • 35% don’t plan on going to shopping centers or malls this year compared with 27% in June;
  • 66% said they would not visit an amusement park, up seven percentage points from the previous month;
  • 64% won’t attend a sporting event this year, up from 55% in June;
  • 66% expect to see more global pandemic-like events in the future, up from 60% in June; and
  • pessimism continued to reduce consumers’ belief that the economy will return to pre-Covid-19 levels with only 13% of those surveyed believing it will bounce back. In June, 16% were hopeful.

IBM has polled more than 54,000 U.S. consumers since April.

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