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People Are Less Stressed About Covid—But More Anxious About This

As coronavirus vaccinations continue at a rapid pace across the country, shoppers are showing slow but steady signs that they’re ready to return to a state of normalcy.

U.S. consumers are 8 percent more likely to feel safe returning to stores in March than they were in January, Deloitte found in new research. Its survey revealed that the overall level of Covid-19-related anxiety among respondents is down 10 percent since February, representing a significant about-face—last month’s numbers showed Americans feeling 6 percent more anxious than they did the month prior.

U.S. shoppers aren’t the only group showing shifts in attitudes about the pandemic. Globally, anxiety levels have dropped to their lowest levels since April of 2020, and net anxiety improved across most regions, Deloitte found. The U.K., the U.S. and Japan saw the largest improvements, with 10 percent drops across the board.

While shoppers are feeling more confident about their physical safety in light of declining infection rates and the dissemination of multiple vaccines, they’re still holding onto a bit of fiscal cautiousness. This month, 29 percent of U.S. consumers said they felt apprehensive about making their upcoming bill payments, and 37 percent reported putting off large purchases for the time being. Those numbers have remained nearly stagnant from February, with each issue of concern seeing a 1 percent decrease month over month.

“The stress of the pandemic is shifting from personal safety to financial security as we turn the corner and vaccinations become more readily available,” Anthony Waelter, vice chairman of Deloitte and U.S. consumer industry leader, said in a statement. “Yet, despite a rise in financial stress related anxiety, consumer intent to maintain or increase discretionary spending is also on the rise, demonstrating more confidence in the recovery.” Retailers can also expect to see consumer spending trends accelerate with the rollout of the third round of stimulus payments this month, Waelter added.

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Deloitte said shoppers are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, with three-quarters planning to spend the same amount or more on apparel and restaurants in the coming weeks. Still, they are likely to continue to “consume at home” by largely shopping online, it added.

According to payment solutions provider daVinci Payments, male shoppers have eagerly adopted e-commerce as their preferred method for browsing and buying in recent seasons—and they’ve only doubled down during the pandemic. A recent study showed that online, mobile and contactless options dominate their preferences, driven by a desire for convenience and an urge to save time.

The report, which details trends in men’s spending patterns, says 70 percent of men make most purchases digitally so far this year, up from a reported 53 percent a year prior. What’s more, two-thirds of male consumers copped to doing so via their smartphones—a 22-percent increase since the pandemic began.

While 80 percent of respondents cited convenience as the driving force behind their affinity for the web, two-fifths of men said they also stayed out of stores to preserve their health and safety. Of the male shoppers who do visit brick-and-mortar stores, 61 percent said that their transactions are contactless.

Men are also espousing a shrewdness when it comes to shopping habits, daVinci found. While price is a top purchase driver for male shoppers, they are also loyal to brands once they have had the chance to vet them, and look to be rewarded for their fealty. Well over half of respondents (57percent) said they would prefer to receive a $100 rebate to be used on a future purchase over a $50 instant discount. What’s more, 83 percent said they would choose a brand with a loyalty program over one without it.

Not surprisingly, Amazon remains a top retail marketplace and discovery tool for male shoppers, who often begin their searches for products on the multi-category site. Still, daVinci’s data indicated that subscription services and resale sites are increasingly pulling market share among men as online’s influence continues to grow. Two-thirds of respondents said they shop on consignment marketplaces, with younger male shoppers more likely to browse pre-owned goods than their older counterparts. While most men look for electronics, games and collectibles on these sites, data revealed that shoes and designer clothes are the No. 5 and No. 7 most-searched categories, respectively.