The COVID-19 crisis has completely altered what daily life looks like both here in the United States and throughout the world. No longer can people simply go about their lives – there is heightened concern surrounding health and safety as this virus makes its way through society. There are very few countries that have been impacted by this novel virus and subsequent global pandemic more than the United States – while the U.S. has just 4% of the world’s population, the country currently accounts for more than 22% of the world’s confirmed Covid-19 deaths (Lopez, 2020). Because of the extreme economic and racial disparities that exist in the U.S., these numbers are especially dire in communities of color. Black and Latino people are three times as likely to catch the virus than their white counterparts and are two times as likely to die from virus-related complications (Oppel, Gebeloff, Lai, Wright, & Smith, 2020). The economic impacts of the pandemic are already being clearly felt, but there is not yet enough understanding on how this will impact Hispanic consumers considering the disproportionate impacts on their community.
The coronavirus crisis has hit the U.S. hard – over 6.3 million Americans have been infected and more than 180,000 have died as a result of their illness (The New York Times, 2020). These numbers are climbing daily, with new hotspots emerging daily throughout the U.S. While cases are currently decreasing in frequency, there is currently no clear signs pointing to the U.S. having the pandemic under control (The New York Times, 2020).
As it currently stands, Latinos are being hospitalized and dying from the virus at a rate that is four times the rate of whites and there are fears that these numbers are being severely underestimated (Ramos, 2020). There are a variety of reasons as to why these numbers are so disproportionate across the racial divide, but several reasons include a higher percentage of Latinos working low-paying service jobs that require them to work despite the pandemic, a lack of access to health care, and higher propensity to pre-existing conditions (Ramos, 2020). Because of the increased likelihood that Latinos have service jobs, it means they are interacting more with the public and are at a higher risk of catching the virus. Because Latinos have less access to affordable healthcare, they are more likely to suffer from pre-existing conditions that put them at increased risk of dying should they contract the virus. White consumers have the luxury of working from home at a higher rate than Latinos and the Latinos serving in essential roles are not given access to adequate personal protective equipment to stop the spread of the virus (Ramos, 2020).
These disparities are also impacting the economic well-being of Latinos at disproportionate rates in comparison to their White counterparts. Hispanic women have faced unemployment rates much higher than that of U.S. workers overall, with 20.5% of Hispanic women reporting unemployment in April 2020 – this is up from a low of just 5.5% in February (Krogstad & Lopez, 2020). Hispanics overall have faced record levels of unemployment, with 14.5% of Hispanics claiming unemployment in the month of June (Krogstad & Lopez, 2020). These numbers are fluctuating as states begin to reopen and send people back to work, but as cases continue to rise in the Latino community, the long-term economic effects are not yet fully understood.
As the country continues to grapple with both the public health and economic effects of the pandemic, it is important to understand what consumers are doing in the face of unprecedented uncertainty. As a result of health-related restrictions, consumers are shopping differently than they ever have before, with a switch to more shopping online – it is estimated that online shopping will make up 50% of non-food purchases by 2030 (McDonald, 2020). Consumers are also shopping less than normal as financial security is more precarious than ever (Krogstad & Lopez, 2020). Latino consumers are no different than the general public when it comes to the shift of online shopping – Hispanics are paying more attention to online shopping, with 45% saying they are visiting web pages more often than pre-pandemic (Pastore, 2020). Hispanics are shopping more than the general population – 16% say they are shopping at least once a day in comparison to just 13% of the general population – but their habits are shifting (Pastore, 2020). They are shopping more online, but are avoiding spending on luxury items such as clothing and skincare (Pastore, 2020).
The effects of the pandemic on Hispanic shopping habits are only beginning to be understood. It is important for researchers to not only explore the far-reaching effects of the pandemic on Hispanic wallets, but on Hispanic habits. It appears as though the country is beginning to make a shift to online shopping as much as possible in order to stay safe – Hispanic consumers habits are following this same trend. Marketers need to understand this and take into account already existing shopping habits in the Hispanic community when attempting to reach new Hispanic consumers.
Krogstad, J. M. & Lopez, M. H. (2020). Cornavirus economic downturn has hit Latinos especially hard. Pew Research. https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2020/08/04/coronavirus-economic-dow... hit-latinos-especially-hard/
Lopez, G. (2020). If the US had Canada’s Coid-19 death rate, 100,000 more Americans would likely be alive today. Vox. https://www.vox.com/future perfect/2020/9/9/21428769/covid-19-coronavirus-deaths-statistics-us-canada-europe
McDonald, C. (2020). Pandemic behavior shift will continue for many consumers, research finds. Computer Weekly. https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252487892/Pandemic behaviour-shift-will-continue-for-many-consumers-research-finds
The New York Times. (2020). Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest map and case count. The New York Times. Retrieved 9 September, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html
Oppel, R. A., Gebeloff, R., Lai, K. K. R., Wright, W., & Smith, M. (2020). The fullest look yet at the racial inequity of Coronavirus. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/05/us/coronavirus-latinos-af... americans-cdc-data.html?auth=login-google
Pastore, A. (2020). Coronavirus crisis and the Hispanic consumer. WWD. https://wwd.com/business-news/business-features/coronavirus-crisis-hispa... 1203559931/
Ramos, K. (2020). Latinos hit hard by coronavirus, but Chicago suggests it’s even worse than it looks. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/latinos-hit-hard-by coronavirus-but-chicago-suggests-its-even-worse-than-it-looks/2020/07/10/a4ae1b62-bfa6-11ea-b4f6-cb39cd8940fb_story.html