Will the UK see a post-lockdown ‘Roaring 20s’?
Published: 12. May 2021
In wave 11 of our Corona Consumer survey, around 48 percent of Brits reported having already been vaccinated. This is a remarkable feat considering that last year this time, the global pandemic was in full swing and with no end in sight. To put the cherry on top, actual figures even exceed what was reported on our survey, with around 50 vaccination doses administered per 100 people as of March 29. In light of this, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-step plan to loosen the lockdown in England and have all legal limits on social contact erased by June 21st. The devolved nations are generally taking a more cautious approach but still in the same direction. Brits have started looking forward to the summer, wondering what activities they could embark upon in a setting that might soon live up to the (albeit highly unequal) excess and leisure of a post-influenza United States a century ago.
AstraZeneca vaccine still trusted
The AstraZeneca vaccine is the most known in the UK, with around 86 percent of Brits being familiar with it; we found that, at 97 percent, 55- to 65-year-olds were the age group with the highest rate of familiarity with the vaccine. This may be due to the recent highly-reported misunderstanding that the vaccine caused blood clots in its recipients, which was later disproven by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the UK’s national regulator. These reports, at least, don’t seem to have affected people’s trust in the AstraZeneca vaccine, as only around 10 percent of Brits considered it to be (very) unsafe, making it only second to the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine (86%). Nevertheless, the UK has since restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 30 and over.
Cautious Brits spending and going out less in the future?
Despite this, upon closer review of our survey results, there is still a sense of caution and hesitancy among the British population. For example, when asked how safe they would consider certain activities if no restrictions were in place, only 34 percent of Brits responded it was at least ‘rather safe’ to go to the cinema. Brits were more susceptible to returning to the office, with 48 percent considering it to be at least ‘rather safe’. Another notable example is that only 12 percent of Brits are planning a major purchase within the next two weeks, signalling fiscal prudence. When looking at the recent opening of non-essential retail across England, scores of young people queued outside of stores such as JD Sports, Footlocker, and TK Maxx.
Pandemic optimism even in light of variants
With the more infectious B.1.1.7 and B1.351 coronavirus variant taking hold over the UK and potentially undermining the national vaccination effort, Brits are still largely worried about their health during the pandemic. Upon asking the extent to which Brits share this concern on a scale of one to six (‘not worried’ to ‘very worried’), the average score in our survey was 3.75. However, they do not generally consider the coronavirus pandemic situation to be as serious as before; in January one in three respondents (34%) reported that they perceived the situation to be very serious, a figure which reduced to 15 percent in Wave 11.
The dawn of vaccine passports?
As restrictions loosen and the hospitality sector starts plans for opening up again, the UK government has been pondering the decision to implement a vaccination passport in situations such as gaining entrance to a pub or other such venues. In early March, we asked Brits for their opinion on the institution of a vaccination passport and around 51 percent stated they were either in favour or absolutely in favour of it. On the other hand, 30 percent reported not being sure, with 19 percent being (absolutely) against it. It would be interesting to see if the unsure will take a position as they see how they respond to the issue once the Cabinet Office presents its findings on the trial to Parliament later this month.
Mental health during the pandemic
It has been widely reported that the government-imposed lockdown, a necessary measure taken to reduce the infection rate, has affected people’s mental health. Our survey found that the largest concerns Brits have regarding the pandemic include the risk of infection of family and friends (58%), and long-lasting economic and psychological consequences (51% and 44% each). When asked how they felt about their mental health over the previous week, 42 percent of Brits responded with either ‘not that good’, ‘not good’, or ‘not good at all’. Mental health problems can lead to physical consequences including lack of sleep and increased fatigue, two symptoms 45 and 42 percent (respectively) of Brits reported feeling at least often over the previous two weeks. Closely related to mental health, life satisfaction is another topic of concern. When asked to determine how satisfied they are in certain aspects of their life, only 35 percent of Brits responded that they were at least ‘rather satisfied’ with their social life.
Building trust in vaccines for a higher vaccination rate
Our Corona Consumer Report shows that there are still individuals who believe that Covid and/or the vaccine are a hoax or are not convinced of the vaccine’s effectiveness. At the moment, vaccines in the UK are being given to those aged 45 and over, who are clinically at high risk from coronavirus, those working or living in care homes, health and social care workers, those with a learning disability, or those who are the main carer for someone at high risk. These are people who would already be willing to be vaccinated, but when vaccines inevitably become available to the general public, the UK government needs to ensure that vaccine confidence and trust is at an all-time peak and maintained.
Once vaccine scepticism has been done away with and greater resources are put into the post-lockdown mental health crisis, only then can we expect to see a more equitable and just “Roaring 20s” (in terms of mental health and financial security) in the years to come than its previous incarnation.
The full reports contains more than 35 pages of consumer behaviour insights each, focusing on topics such as general concerns, concerns about health, trustworthiness of information sources, changes in leisure activities and hobbies, grocery shopping behaviour and brand loyalty.
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