AI adoption  

Research from AI software firm IPsoft and Censuswide shows that 71% of businesses intend to safeguard jobs by bringing back furloughed workers. However, 64% predict that their organizations will replace 31% or more of their workforces with new technologies or new people in order to better meet strategic goals by 2022.

The study, focusing in on the U.S. workforce, found that 88% of businesses added or scaled AI within their organizations during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Eighty-two percent of organizations surveyed intend to use AI and other emerging technologies to hedge against fully reopening their business to full capacity in 2020. Of those who reported acquiring or scaling AI during the pandemic, 93% report that it has created a need for workers with the technical skills required to manage AI or its outcomes.

 The research was conducted in August 2020. Read more.

Parents expect to spend more on back-to-school

An update of The National Retail Federation’s annual back-to-class survey conducted in early August found that 63% of U.S. consumers expect at least some school and college classes will take place online this year, up from 55% when the original survey was conducted in early July. Of those, 76% plan to make purchases specifically because of online learning, up from 72%. While the number planning to buy laptops is essentially unchanged at 37% vs. 36%, the number buying accessories such as a mouse or flash drive is up at 26% from 21% and the number expecting to buy desks or chairs to furnish home classrooms rose from 17% to 23%.

The survey found that 34% expect to spend more than they thought in July and 54% said that’s because they plan to spend more on electronics and computer equipment. Forty-seven percent said they are spending more on clothing and 59% said the higher spending would come in the form of school supplies such as pencils and notebooks. Only 25% expect to spend less and 42% expect to spend the same as they thought in July. The update did not ask the actual amount consumers expect to spend. As of July, shoppers with children in kindergarten through high school said they planned to spend an average $789.49 per family for a total of $33.9 billion while those with college students planned to spend an average $1,059.20 per family, or $67.7 billion total.

The research was conducted August 3-11, 2020. Read more. The original survey was conducted July 1-8, 2020. Read more.

Consumers balance sustainability and safety

A new wave of InsightsNow’s COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior explored consumer behavior regarding restaurant visits and found that, as of August 2020, more respondents are comfortable grabbing food from a fast food restaurant (71%) versus dining at a restaurant with outside seating (61%). Only 38% are willing to sit inside a restaurant to dine.

A dichotomy regarding sustainability was uncovered with 70% stating they believe single-use plastics from restaurants are unnecessarily wasteful and bad for the environment, while 65% stated that single-use plastics are essential for safety and cleanliness during COVID-19. The study showed that single-use plastic as a preferred choice stems from consumer distrust, with one in three people responding that they are not sure restaurants can be trusted with cleaning and disinfecting.

The research was conducted August 7-10, 2020.

U.S. consumer fear and anxiety 

Fear surrounding health care remains high in the U.S., according to Alter Agents’ second wave of an ongoing study on consumer fear and anxiety, comparing data from late 2019 to summer 2020. While the percentage of respondents placing health care in their top three areas of concern has not changed (40%), the reasons surrounding the concern have shifted from high cost (December, 2019), to actual ability to receive care (June, 2020).

Optimism is also falling, with respondents who expressed optimism in their personal future dropping by eleven points, from 81% in November 2019 to 70% in June 2020.

The research was conducted in late 2019 and June 2020.

U.S. parents stressed about school 

 An Ipsos poll finds 73% of U.S. parents of a school-aged child feel stressed when thinking about their child’s schooling this fall. Seventy-three percent report feeling either a great deal or a little bit of stress. This majority includes 78% of parents whose child is doing virtual learning full-time (44% of respondents) and 72% of parents whose child is in school full-time (23% of respondents).

Many parents report looking for ways to add structure. Around one in three say it is likely they will hire a nanny or tutor, or form a ‘pod,’ for their child.

 The research was conducted between August 27-28, 2020. Read more.

Attitudes and adoption barriers for COVID-19 vaccine

The sixteenth wave of a study by AMC Global and OpinionRoute focused on Americans’ attitudes about usage of an FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine. While most respondents say they would agree to be vaccinated if a vaccine is approved this year, only some would want to receive the vaccine as soon as it is available, and many would wait up to six months or more. For those who would not agree to be vaccinated, barriers included perceptions that there may not have been enough testing and concerns about safety.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents predict they will agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if an FDA-approved vaccine becomes available this year. Americans who would not agree to a vaccine approved this year report their top barriers are concerns about side effects (68%), insufficient testing (63%) and safety (57%). Timing on vaccination varies from ASAP (26%), after one month (18%), after two to three months (19%), after four to six months (8%), longer than six months (16%) to never (13%).

The research was conducted the week of August 24, 2020.

View Part 8 of Quirk's COVID-19: Survey Monitor series.