Survey: How Consumers Are Reacting to COVID-19

People waiting in line to enter in a store - Social distancing concept

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has unexpectedly shifted daily life for many Americans, sparking concerns over physical, emotional and financial well-being.

To better understand how we can continue helping consumers manage this unprecedented period, Experian surveyed over 1,400 consumers throughout the U.S. to find out what they're concerned about and how this situation may be impacting their finances.

We found that consumers are most worried about their family's and their own health, but are also concerned about the economy and the impact COVID-19 will have on their personal finances. Read on to learn more about consumers' concerns as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

Concerns About Physical and Financial Health Are Top of Mind

The impacts of COVID-19 have permeated many aspects of daily life, and consumers are understandably worried most about their own health and well-being and that of their family members. Some 82% of people surveyed said they were worried COVID-19 would impact their family's health, and 77% were worried about their own health.

Aside from health concerns, many Americans fear COVID-19's impact on the economy and their finances. More than two-thirds—69%—of respondents say they are worried about their personal finances; 66% are worried about the economy; 55% are worried about their jobs; and 47% are concerned for their credit.

Many Consumers Worry About Their Job Security

Overall, 61% of those surveyed feel the future of their job is up in the air, underscoring the uncertainty these unprecedented times have brought. Unemployment filings recently hit a record high, with more than 16 million people filing jobless claims in the last week of March and the first two weeks of April.

Of the consumers Experian surveyed, 17% reported being unemployed, while 62% said they were currently working. Of those who were unemployed, nearly a quarter (22%) said that it was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And though the majority of Americans still have a job, many respondents reported that some aspect of their jobs had been impacted due to COVID-19:

  • 41% had experienced a reduction in work hours
  • 15% said their salary was reduced
  • 5% said they had lost some or all of their benefits

As COVID-19 continues to impact jobs, wages and benefits, incomes have been slashed and households are feeling the burden. More than three-quarters—78%—of respondents said their household income had been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

More Than a Third of Americans May Have Trouble Paying Their Bills

As incomes are reduced and jobs eliminated, 63% of those surveyed said they are more worried now about their personal finances than they were before the crisis began. When it comes to having enough money to spend, 62% said they are worried about their disposable income.

Beyond having enough money for essential needs—such as housing, food and medicine—debt is a concern for many, with 59% of respondents saying they were worried about paying it down. When asked which types of debt they were more concerned about being able to pay off, personal loan and credit card debt topped the list.

Bills, too, are a concern. Asked whether they thought they'd be able to cover their bills in the next three months, 15% of respondents said no and 23% said they were unsure.

Of those who said they were unsure, utility, credit cards and rent were the top three items they were concerned about. Those top categories were followed by auto loans, mortgage payments and student loans.

Three-Quarters of Consumers May Contact Creditors for Repayment Relief

As more Americans struggle to maintain their regular incomes due to job loss or reduced hours, creditors and service providers have begun rolling out relief options to help those affected by the ongoing pandemic. When asked, 28% of respondents said they had already contacted their lender or service provider to see if they could make a special payment arrangement. Another 49% said they hadn't yet contacted anyone, but were planning to reach out. The remaining 23% said they had not reached out to anyone and were not planning to do so.

Among the portion of those who had already contacted their creditor or service provider, 69% said they were granted an acceptable repayment option for some or all of their bills. Only 15% reported being denied this relief, but 16% either didn't know or were waiting to hear back.

Some Americans Plan to Use Savings to Cover Debt Payments

While many consumers still have income they plan to use to pay down their debt (67% reported planning to pay their bills with their monthly income), 1 in 3 respondents said they will have to rely on savings to make their debt payments in coming months.

Another 13% say they will use credit cards; 13% say they will use unemployment benefits; and 5% plan to use an emergency loan to make their debt payments.

When asked if they would be opening a new line of credit in the next six months, 21% of respondents said they planned to apply for a new credit card, 12% planned to apply for a personal loan and 8% said they planned to apply for an auto loan. Others said they planned to apply for a mortgage (7%), small business loan (5%), home equity line of credit (3%). Most survey respondents (67%) said they did not plan to apply for any of the above.

Helpful Resources to Manage COVID-19

In addition to government support, many companies have issued guidance on how they are helping consumers during this difficult time. If your finances have been impacted by COVID-19, the following resources may be able to help you find relief.