COVID cases are slowly rising in the U.S., but still not anywhere near levels seen in the fall. This week’s CivicScience data on the matter shows that consumer concern about being in public spaces increased by only two percentage points, as more people report feeling “somewhat concerned.” It appears the figure of those who are concerned has reached somewhat of a plateau for the time being, shifting slightly between extremes (somewhat or very).

Maybe this is because people are ready to get back to their lives in a huge way. Comfort resuming normal activities increased this week for most measured activities except for shopping in stores, which seems to have reached a plateau. The highest increases in comfort were seen for going back to work and traveling (+3 pp).

As comfort traveling continues to rise, consumer plans to travel in the next month remain consistently strong at 57%. In fact, intent to travel via airplane remains the highest we’ve seen since we began tracking immediate travel plans in Q4 2020.

While CivicScience found last week that there are many differences between the right and left when it comes to mask mandates and propensity to fly, data this week reveals there is little difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to actual travel plans in the next month.

Grocery and Restaurant Spending Continue to Shift

Fewer people plan to get food from a restaurant this week, driven mostly by a decline in those who plan to order takeout / delivery.

Since last week, an increasing percentage of fast-food patrons have stopped themselves from eating at a fast-food restaurant due to rising menu prices (58%, +4 pp), which may be contributing to declining restaurant patronage observed in the data above.

But it’s not only QSRs. The percentage of those who have stopped themselves from purchasing something at the grocery store continues to climb as well, with a third of grocery shoppers now reporting that they have stopped themselves many times because of higher than usual prices.

The continued growth in grocery shoppers who have refrained from buying items many times due to higher prices seems to be driven almost solely by adults over age 45.

The top way that grocery shoppers have been changing their shopping behavior recently is by looking for items on sale. However, starting in early April, an increasing percentage of shoppers have also been seeking store brand items (+4 pp) and shopping at discount grocery stores (+5 pp).

Given all of this, it comes as no surprise that those who feel “very concerned” about inflation increased this week (57%, up 3 pp).

As inflation persists, these spending habits will likely only continue to shift, for the worse of restaurant and grocery chains. CivicScience tracks all of this, and the above data is merely the free version of what we do. Want to be a partner? Learn more about what we do for clients.