“In the span of a few months, what started as a global health crisis morphed into an economic one as well. It’s been more than a century since the world has seen these two forces so intertwined. We do not expect to see a return to normal, or even a new normal, until total concern descends from its elevated level and financial concerns overtake those of immediate health and safety.”
—In the throes of a dual-front crisis: Establishing the road to a global consumer recovery, Deloitte Insights, April 2020
We’re still in a dual-front crisis, according to the Deloitte Global State of the Consumer Tracker. However, after lagging behind for the better part of two years, financial stress is now overpowering health and safety concerns as the primary determinant of consumers’ decision-making by quite a strong margin.
Following omicron, global pandemic anxiety subsided dramatically among the 23,000 respondents across 23 countries who participated in our monthly consumer survey. Consumers’ perceived safety of doing everyday things like going to the store quickly reached a two-year high, and it continues to improve with each passing month.1
At the same time, record inflation continued unabated, exacerbated by geopolitical conflict. And with government stimulus programmes no longer around to help consumers make ends meet, financial sentiment metrics have begun flashing warning signals. Globally, financial anxiety is high—as is concern around inflation, and consumers’ level of savings and credit card debt.2 In some countries, including the United States, China, and England, discretionary spending intentions are weakening.3
In many ways, consumer businesses face similar challenges compared to early pandemic days. They still need the agility to respond to rapidly changing consumer behaviour. And few can predict the extent of the financial headwinds that lie ahead.
Even as the pandemic gradually fades, many companies are finding that prepandemic financial and forecasting models no longer work. The “new normal” remains elusive.