In a new Amex Trendex report, American Express found that U.S. consumers are seriously missing travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic—so much so that it’s begun taking a real emotional toll on them.
Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) reported that the inability to travel at present is causing them to feel anxious and stressed, and three out of four respondents (78%) cited travel as one of the activities that they’re most yearning for.
The U.S. Commerce Department just announced an increase of 7.5 percent in retail sales in June over May. Konstantin Yuganov – stock.adobe.com
Despite the impact that not traveling has on consumers’ health and well-being, consumers remain hesitant to travel for upcoming holidays.
Many consumers are showing they are ready to shop. According to the report, 37 percent of U.S. consumers, 42 percent of Australian consumers and 43 percent of Japanese consumers are planning to visit a mall or stand-alone retail store in the next month. While consumers continue to note hesitancy to take part in activities that are not as conforming to social distancing, like visiting bars, attending concerts, or going to night clubs, local businesses are likely to benefit. In total, 78 percent of global consumers say they plan to visit local restaurants and 71 percent say they will visit coffee shops in the next month.
- Only 10% of respondents are planning to travel for Labor Day
- 1 in 5 (20%) are planning to travel for Thanksgiving
When it comes to planning travel in the future, the Amex Trendex uncovered the following key consumer insights:
- Group travel preferred over solo travel: After spending more time at home together over the past few months, consumers are more likely to travel with members of their households (67%) than by themselves (10%) once restrictions are lifted.
- High-tech & high-touch service and space remain top of mind: 4 in 5 consumers (77%) prefer to book online on their own but would like to have a real person available to help and 6 in 10 respondents (61%) are willing to pay more for a plane or train that has every other seat free.
- Consumers value flexibility and cleanliness: Increased flexibility for refunds/travel changes is most important when booking travel in the future (25%) followed by cleanliness standards (19%)
- Travelers are interested in extended-stay travel programs: Over half (57%) of U.S. consumers would be willing to travel and live somewhere else for three months if given economic and health incentives, and 50% agree they would be willing to do so for a year.
Card Members continue to explore their own backyards
- Over half of hotel bookings (52%) in July were made at hotels within the Card Members’ home state or out of state but local regional travel (compared to 33% in July 2019)
- 90% of lodging bookings and 79% of air bookings were domestic (between 6/08/2020 – 7/05/2020)
Last minute bookings continue to dominate (7/06/2020 – 8/02/2020 vs. 7/08/2019 – 8/04/2019)
- Two thirds of hotel bookings (62%) were made for travel less than 14 days out (compared to 48% last year)
More than four in five hotel and domestic air bookings are for travel within 30 days (85% and 84% respectively).
PHOTO: Mother and son at the airport. (Photo via Getty Images Plus / iStock / keiferpix)
According to the survey results, 50 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to move somewhere new for an entire year if “given economic and health incentives.”
Luckily for them, there are a few destinations considering offering exactly that. Take Barbados as the prime example.
In July, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced the country is considering a 12-month “Barbados Welcome Stamp,” which could allow tourists to spend extended time on the island.
“COVID-19 has presented tremendous challenges to those countries that are tourism and travel dependent and we have reached a position where we recognize that part of the challenge relates to short term travel,” Mottley said. “So, if we can have a mechanism that allows people who want to…take advantage of being in a different part of the world, of the sun, sea and sand, and … a stable society; one that functions well, then Barbados is a perfect place for you to come.”
Now the real question is, who would you invite to come with you on a year-long island getaway?