NEW YORK, March 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — 8 in 10 American consumers plan to shop online in some fashion, even when the COVID-19 global pandemic comes to an end – a staggering statistic that demonstrates just how far the digital acceleration of “e-commerce” has migrated across all demographics, geographies and industries.

That is one of the many findings from a comprehensive Harris Poll report titled, The Great Awakening: A Year in the Life in the Pandemic, which examines the most impactful changes to American society and business over the last 12 months and what it means going forward.

The Harris Poll report comes as vaccinations rise while cases fall, and nearly half of all Americans (45%) are confident that life in the United States will soon “return to normal”. The COVID-19 vaccine seems to be having an immediate impact on future spending with (53%) of consumers and (61%) of households over $100k claiming the vaccine rollout has had at least “some influence” on how much they plan to spend in the coming months. In fact, (30%) of those households say they plan to spend more compared to last spring, and (28%) plan to spend more compared to this winter.

“The pandemic has forever changed all our lives, but 12 months after it began, we are now beginning to see that the end may finally be near,” said John Gerzema, Co-CEO of The Harris Poll. “Many Americans have largely been cut-off from society during this unprecedented time, and before long, we all will be looking forward to reconnecting with our friends, family and loved ones and returning to normal – regardless of how different that ‘new normal’ may be.”

The increased optimism also points to an American economy that may be better suited to quickly transition from crisis to recovery thanks in part to a digitally-adapted American consumer who has relied on e-commerce to get basic essentials during the pandemic, and the rapid technological innovations made by business to meet their changing needs. While (47%) of Americans miss the experience of shopping in-store, over three-fourths (77%) say they are satisfied with online shopping.

Looking across industries, healthcare is among the top three industries rated for doing the best job at digitally adapting their products and services, followed by grocery, then food and beverage. The biggest opportunity is for businesses in the travel/hospitality, airline, and real estate industries who have lower ratings likely because consumers have yet to return in full.

“One year into the global pandemic, as we emerge from the crisis, one trend that won’t snap back or slow down is the massive acceleration of digital transformation,” said Mark Penn, Chairman of The Harris Poll and president of The Stagwell Group and CEO of MDC Partners. “Digital has gone from the ‘next generation’ to the only generation, as Americans’ online lives are here to stay. That provides a massive opportunity for marketers as we find ourselves on the edge of a great consumer resurgence.”

While hope is on the horizon, Americans are scarred from the pan­demic and will carry certain pandemic behaviors forward in their consumer­ism. For instance, shoppers seem to prefer the “no contact” method of purchasing as 64% say they plan to continue to use less cash and (48%) don’t want to touch cash anymore. Looking ahead, to ensure consumer safety (63%) support businesses using a ″vaccine passport″ in which a customer would be required to show they received a COVID-19 vaccine or a recent negative COVID-19 test in order to do activities such as fly on a plane or attend a major league sporting event.

“While impossible to predict exactly how American life will look past the pandemic, one thing that is certain is that our “new normal” is unlikely to resemble life before the pandemic,” said Will Johnson, Co-CEO of The Harris Poll “From our personal interactions, to our consumer habits and work lives, our data suggests many changes in behavior are here to stay, and it is imperative business and our institutions continue to adapt for the betterment of society.”

To download the full report, visit here.

The Harris Poll will be co-hosting a special webinar at 12:30 pm ET on Wednesday, March 17, reflecting on 12 months, 12 findings and the implications for brand and business strategies after a year of COVID-19. Those interested can register at this link.


This report was completed through a set of weekly surveys each conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll from March 15, 2020 – March 15, 2021. Each survey used a nationally representative sample of around 2,000 US. adults and in total The Harris Poll conducted 55 waves of research, 113,435 total interviews, and more than 1,400 total questions. Data was weighted to reflect the U.S. general public across age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, income and employment.

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., tracking public opinion and social sentiment since 1963. Harris is a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times, working with clients in building corporate reputation, brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Its mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible.

Read the full release here.


Matthew Feider

Chief of Staff

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