Optimism Falls as Uncertainty Lingers Across Gulf South
NEW ORLEANS – Early optimism among people of the gulf south at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is fading as 2020 rolls on according to the newest edition of the Gulf South Index, a cooperative research project launched earlier this year by The Ehrhardt Group and Causeway Solutions.
As of the beginning of August, 44% of gulf south residents were optimistic that 2020 would be a better year than 2019, down from 66% at the end of March.
“Our willingness as consumers to enjoy experiences and spend money grows as our optimism about our circumstances improves,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner of The Ehrhardt Group. “The people of the gulf south are telling us that they are more hesitant right now to do many of the things that make this part of the world so distinct. Fewer people are currently interested in attending festivals and sporting events. The main reason for this is a lack of clarity on when things may improve. This vagueness creates more uncertainty for companies and a greater need for businesses to solidify relationships with the audiences and customers most important to them.”
The latest index findings examine views of consumers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle about an array of topics including when the pandemic may end, how the gulf south is changing as a result of the current health crisis, the economy, schools reopening, participation in recreational activities, dining out, the return of sports, travel and more.
For example, in March, 67% of gulf south residents thought the COVID-19 outbreak would last less than three months. Now, 92% think the current disruptions will last at least a few more months or even into 2021 and beyond. Only 18% of people in the gulf south rated the economy good or very good, down from 31% in March.
While 20% of residents say they would feel comfortable attending a sporting event or concert right now, only 8% of those surveyed say they are actually likely to do this.
“Tensions are increasing in the gulf south region because no one is sure how long the current disruptions will last,” said Bill Skelly, CEO of Causeway Solutions. “How we navigate the next few months will be critical to any business trying to reach consumers. As each day unfolds, there are new concerns, changes and impacts on day-to-day life as we know it.”
By collecting and examining this information, the creators of the Gulf South Index aim to provide a better understanding of the media landscape, consumer behaviors and how business and organizations operate in the region. These newest findings are the result of a survey of 1,500 consumers in the region between July 18 and 20. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3 percent.
Download the latest Gulf South Index Report here.