Commission’s new consumer survey shows impact of COVID-19 and popularity of ‘greener’ choices

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the Commission released key data on the behaviour of consumers in 2020. The results of a survey, conducted at the end of 2020, illustrate the impact the COVID-19 crisis had on consumption patterns, with consumers shopping closer to home or supporting local businesses. At the same time, they made ‘greener’ choices: consumers were willing to pay more for a product that is more durable.  The findings will be discussed during this year’s European Consumer Summit on 15 March 2021. This day also marks the European Consumer Day.     

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “The pandemic left a mark on consumers: While 38% of them were concerned about being able to pay their bills, another 42% decided to postpone major purchasing decisions. On a positive note, findings also show that 56% of consumers are mindful of the environmental impact of their purchases. I will discuss the key data at the forthcoming Consumer Summit to engage all participants in concrete actions to accelerate the recovery from COVID-19 and the green transition.”

Some of the main findings:

  • 71% of consumers shopped online in 2020.
  • On average 38% of Europeans were concerned about paying their bills the following month. The difference between Member States was significant: Citizens’ financial concerns ranged from 7% to 71%. More information is available here.
  • 42% of consumers considered postponing a major purchase and 80% would not make any travel plans until the situation was back to normal in their country.
  • 56% of consumers said environmental concerns influenced their purchasing decisions and 67% said that they bought products that were better for the environment, even if such products were more expensive. Another 81% shopped closer to home and supported local businesses.
  • Other variables were not impacted by the crisis compared to previous surveys. For example, the level of consumer trust in retailers remained high (at 80%), extensive knowledge of consumer rights remained low (at 27%) and the share of consumers confronted with a purchasing problem for which they felt they could legitimately complain remained low (at 23%).

Next steps

The findings will feed into further actions by the Commission to ensure that consumers play their full part in the EU economic recovery and green and digital transitions, as set out in the New Consumer Agenda launched at the end of 2020. The key consumer data will be discussed during the Consumer Summit on 15 March 2021, World Consumer Day, which the Commission co-organises with the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU. The findings are part of a new Consumer Conditions Scoreboard that the Commission intends to examine every year at Consumer Summits as a monitoring and benchmarking tool for consumer policy improvements.

Background

The main results disclosed today come from a targeted survey conducted in the last quarter of 2020 to assess consumers’ attitudes, behaviour and experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission also published today a comparison on how consumers evaluate their experience in 23 different economic sectors. New survey data and other already available sources, notably from Eurostat, are put together to form a comprehensive overview in the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard, to assess the functioning of the Single Market for consumers.

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