Which pandemic habits will Americans keep?

The pandemic has been a time for many consumers to reflect on their social, mental, and physical habits. As a result, many new habits have been formed since March 2020, from spending more time outdoors to socializing more regularly with family. But the question is, will they stick as we transition back into busier routines? In a nationally representative survey of over 1,900 US adults between June 16th and 21st we asked just that.

Q1: Here are some things that people have said that they have done over the last year.  Are there any on this list that you have tried or picked up since March 2020? Please select all that apply.

Q2: And which of these do you think you will keep doing throughout the rest of 2021? Please select all that apply.

Americans can’t wait to stop socializing on Zoom

Americans are clearly looking forward to getting back to their regular social lives. While 15% of Americans say they tried socializing virtually (e.g., Zoom happy hours, birthdays, etc) during the pandemic, only 5% say they plan to continue. Similarly, while 11% of Americans tried having “big nights in, rather than big nights out” during the pandemic, only 6% plan to keep this up. This trend holds true for the dating world as well – only 2% of Americans plan to continue going on virtual dates through the rest of 2021.

In positive news for salons, we see a similar drop in intent to keep up at-home beauty rituals (e.g., painting your own nails, etc) with 13% taking these up during the pandemic, but only 7% planning to continue.

The “pandemic walk” and regular family calls are here to stay

The top 5 pandemic habits Americans picked up that they plan to keep up throughout the rest of 2021 are:

  • Going on walks around their local area (27% of Americans will continue)
  • Regularly calling close family (23%)
  • Cooking lunch rather than buying it (21%)
  • A form of regular exercise (15%)
  • Buying things online rather than going in-store (15%)

Going on walks in the local area was the most popular new habit Americans tried since March 2020 (30%) and it’s here to stay with 27% saying they will continue doing this throughout 2021. Older age groups were most likely to pick up the habit in the first place and are most likely to keep it up with one third of those 55 to 64 and 65+ (34% and 35% respectively) planning to continue compared to 22% of 18 to 24-years-olds and 19% of those 25 to 34.

The increased commitment to family will also remain strong. 27% say they tried calling close family more regularly since March 2020 and 23% will continue to do so. We also see a generational split here with those 55+ (29%) planning on continuing to call close family regularly at twice the rate of those 18 to 24 (15%).

Women were far more likely to pick up new habits during the pandemic than men

Women were more likely than men to say they had tried 23 of the 31 habits tested in our study. The biggest gender disparities were in trying the following habits:

  • Arts and crafts (21% of women vs. 8% of men)
  • Cooking lunch rather than buying it (33% vs. 21%)
  • Baking (25% vs. 13%)
  • Regularly calling close family (33% vs. 21%)
  • Dressing how they want, rather than how others expect them to (22% vs. 11%)

Highlighting the particular pressure women face compared to men when it comes to maintaining their appearance, one in five women (22%) took the pandemic as an opportunity to try dressing how they want, rather than how others expect them to. Only half as many men (11%) said the same. Similarly, 20% of women said they tried to wear fewer different outfits during the pandemic, compared to only 11% of men.

Pandemic habits illustrate generational differences amongst younger and older Americans

Looking deeper into pandemic habits by age group showcases how society is changing. For example, younger generations were more likely to say they started dressing how they wanted rather than how others expected them to since March 2020. 28% of 18-24-year-olds tried this and one in five (22%) plan to continue doing so. Meanwhile, only 14% of Americans aged 35-54 picked up this habit, and 10% plan to continue doing so.

In addition to wardrobe habits, the pandemic prompted more young Americans to try out ‘side-hustles’. Since March 2021, almost one in five 18-24-year-olds (17%) started up a side-hustle alongside their normal job, compared to just 2% of those aged 55+. Younger Americans took the pandemic as an opportunity to jumpstart their creative or personal pursuits, and one in ten (11%) 18-24-year-olds plan on continuing their side hustle through 2021.

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