Lockdowns and restrictions that were imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic are beginning to ease in some countries, but there is little sign there will be a quick return to normality, according to a new global study into consumer intentions.

Insights firm GlobalWebIndex previously revealed the immediate impact of the crisis on consumers in two waves of research, but its latest third wave examined the post-outbreak future.

Conducted in 17 countries from April 22 - 27, the study collated responses from more than 15,250 internet users aged 16 to 64 in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the USA.

It found, across all areas of the study, that future behaviours centred around minimising risk, not just by spending less time in public places but by making greater use of services like home delivery and digital communication.

Almost half of global respondents said they wouldn’t visit shops “for some time” or “for a long time” and this sentiment rose to nearly 60% concerning large outdoor venues, such as sports stadiums or music festivals, while two-thirds felt the same about large indoor venues, such as cinemas and concert halls.

Specifically, just 6% said they would return immediately to outdoor venues, only 4% anticipated an immediate return to indoor ones, while just 9% expected an immediate return to normality when shopping.

The research also found that between waves 2 (early-April) and 3 (mid-April), the number of people expecting the outbreak to last six months or more in their country has increased in almost all markets.

Some of the rises have been dramatic, as in Germany (49% to 71%), Italy (28% to 57%) and Spain (23% to 52%), while the same pattern occurred even in China, the most optimistic of countries, where the proportion expecting it to last six months or more increased from 12% to 26% over just two weeks.

When consumers were asked how they plan to respond to the outbreak financially, about eight in 10 said they plan to delay big purchases, while just over four in 10 said they will cut back on day-to-day purchases.

There is also evidence that buyers of technology and luxury goods intend to hold off until offered promotions and discounts. And in most categories, the number of consumers delaying making a purchase has risen since wave 2, most especially in the clothing, home appliances, luxury items and holiday sectors.

Finally, turning to advertising, it emerged that running “normal” advertising unrelated to coronavirus scored the lowest approval rating, although globally more than half (52%) still approved of it, including 60% in Brazil, India, Italy and Spain.

But the provision of practical information and tips to help people deal with the situation scored the highest approval rating (83%) along with pledging money, aid and supplies (83%). That was followed by two more financially oriented activities: running promotions (81%) and offering flexible payment terms (80%).

Sourced from GlobalWebIndex; additional content by WARC staff