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ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A new report released last week by The Vision Council details how American’s attitudes about the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the global economy, personal behavior, vision care and eyewear purchases are changing as the pandemic continues to disrupt daily life. Based on national studies by research organizations, results from the latest VisionWatch data and responses from Vision Council members, the report includes a detailed breakdown of consumers’ attitudes as well as industry and market insights from The Vision Council’s Eyecare Provider Survey, an ongoing research project aimed at gaining a broad understanding of how the market is reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A key takeaway from the report, U.S. Consumer Sentiment and Market Insights During the Covid-19 Crisis, is that Americans view the global and economic implications of the COVID-19 crisis as higher threats than personal and local community implications. According to a study by Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos, 78 percent of U.S. consumers say the level of threat from the crisis is highest to the global economy, and 74 percent said the highest threat is to the U.S. and the stock market. By comparison, 46 percent see the virus as most threating to their community, and only 36 percent believe the greatest threat is personal.

The same study found that a majority of Americans will support local businesses and communities in response to the crisis. In addition, 70 percent said they believe it will take two to six months before their routines can return back to normal, and 66 percent said they are prepared to wait a few months to as long as six months before going back to their normal lives.

A Consumer Pulse study by McKinsey & Co. revealed that consumers are continuing to cut back expenses and spend carefully. Forty-four percent of respondents said that uncertainty about the economy is preventing them from making purchases or investments they would otherwise make. Just over half said they are cutting back on their spending, and 58 percent said they need to be very careful about how they are spending their money.

McKinsey & Co. found that telemedicine use for physical health is up 6 percent overall in the U.S. since the COVID-19 crisis began, with new users accounting for two-thirds of increase. The highest increase was among Gen X consumers, as well as among those earning $100,000 a year or more.

The Vision Council’s VisionWatch Survey Program, which queried a demographically balanced sample of 10,500 U.S. adults over the internet in February, 2020 and 10,300 in March, 2020 found that while most Americans are practicing heightened personal hygiene and avoiding public locations where they might contract COVID-19, wearing face masks has lagged behind the other strategies.

The percentage of VisionWatch respondents who said they canceled or postponed eye exams or trips to the eye doctor while COVID-19 is still a threat rose from 10 percent on February 26, when the first COVID-19 case in the U.S. was reported, to 59 percent on April 8.

The results of online surveys conducted by the Vision Council showed that more than half of the eyecare professionals that were polled, as well as 81 percent of large optical retailers, have closed some, if not all, of their practices and stores because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Twenty-four percent of ECPs said they have started using telehealth since the coronavirus outbreak began, and another 24 percent said they are considering telehealth options. The increased prevalence of virtual care and telemedicine, along with increased online purchasing activity and postponement of exams and optical purchases (rather than canceling exams or purchases) may help limit industry losses from the COVID-19 crisis, the Vision Council said in an announcement accompanying the release of the report.

Employment across the industry continues to be hit hard, the data showed. Seventy-four percent of ECPs polled by the Vision Council and 90 percent of the Vision Council lab division members that were surveyed reported a reduction in staffing.

The Vision Council report is available to both members and non-members. It can be downloaded here. The results of the report are also available via a Vision Council webinar.