More than a quarter of survey respondents — 27.5 percent — asked about their habits said they’ve already been limiting visits to public places like malls or entertainment venues, according to advisory firm Coresight Research. And 58 percent said they would avoid those crowded places if the outbreak worsens.
U.S. malls would be “disproportionately” affected by the virus’ spread as the most-avoided location, according to Coresight. Among people who said they would change their habits if the outbreak gets worse, about 75 percent said they expected to avoid malls and shopping centers.
“With fears of a global coronavirus pandemic spreading, U.S. consumers are already becoming cautious — and if the situation worsens (or even the perception of the situation), U.S. consumers could dramatically change habits to reduce the risk of infection, and this could hit retailers hard,” the firm wrote in its report.
Coresight surveyed U.S. consumers on Tuesday and Wednesday. The virus has continued to spread since then, with a total of more than 83,000 confirmed cases and 2,800 deaths worldwide as of Friday, according to the World Health Organization.
Currently, similar numbers of shoppers said they are avoiding shops in general across age groups, with older shoppers being slightly more cautious. But if the outbreak gets worse, older consumers were much more likely to avoid malls, with 85.6 percent of consumers older than 60 saying they’d avoid the shopping centers.
Other industries could also see a drop in business if the coronavirus continues to spread. Nearly as many consumers — about 73 percent — said they would avoid public transportation if the outbreak worsens, 68.2 percent said they would avoid international travel and 66.6 percent said they would avoid movie theaters.
More than half of consumers surveyed also said they would also avoid restaurants, bars and coffee shops, sporting events and even hospitals if the coronavirus situation gets bad enough.