Consumer trust in industries
Although the effect has waned slightly, trust in many industries has still changed compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The food and groceries sector still enjoys enhanced levels of trust, while airlines and holiday operators are still less trusted than they were before the crisis.
Social networks are the least trusted industry, with a net trust value of -49.
The crisis continues to affect consumer trust
At a time when consumer life in the UK is changing rapidly, it is important that consumers can trust the businesses that provide them with goods and services. In previous analysis we found that many sectors providing essential services gained trust during the pandemic, whilst sectors that have received bad press for their handling of the crisis have lost it. Our analysis from May of 2020 indicated that lost trust in airlines and holiday operators was related to the failure to provide refunds for cancelled holidays.
What we don’t know yet is how lasting changes in trust brought about by the pandemic will be. So far, most sectors that have had significant changes in trust have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
For example, trust in the food and groceries sector dropped slightly to +62 in February, which is a little down on the high of +68 in May 2020, but still higher than its typical level before the pandemic, which was around +50 for the two years prior to the crisis. Net trust levels are calculated by subtracting the proportion who don’t trust a particular sector from the proportion who do. Other industries such as gas and electricity and banking are also still enjoying higher levels of trust than before the crisis.
The contrasting sector here is the travel industry. Trust in airline and holidays operators dropped significantly at the start of the crisis and, although it has recovered somewhat, net trust has settled around the zero mark, which is lower than the trend in the two years preceding the pandemic (around +10). Levels of trust are now similar to those in autumn 2019 when the high profile collapse of Thomas Cook happened and there were controversies surrounding the way consumers were treated, which again included delayed refunds.
Which? has recently reported instances of customers still not having received refunds owed to them as a result of coronavirus cancellations despite the promise of refunds by the end of January 2021, while the CMA threatened Lastminute.com with legal action because of the company’s failure to fulfil legal obligations to provide refunds.
The fieldwork was conducted by Populus on behalf of Which between 10th and 12th February 2021. A nationally representative sample of 2,103 consumers was surveyed.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please email Sophie Beesley at email@example.com