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Most residents are opposed to surcharges overall (62% opposed) but are expecting higher inflation (75% think things will cost more overall) as the economy opens up.

Vancouver, BC —As BC business struggle financially under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic aftermath, most BC residents are opposed to the concept of special COVID-19 surcharges although most are prepared for the reality that things will cost more in a post-pandemic world.

Despite smaller numbers of customers and increased operating costs of complying with the social distancing rules and deep cleaning protocols, the majority (62%) of British Columbians are opposed to businesses charging a COVID-19 surcharge, including 37% who are ‘strongly opposed’ and a smaller proportion (25%) who are ‘somewhat opposed’. While still in the majority, younger residents (18-34 years) are less opposed (52%) than older residents (63% among those 35-54 and 65% among those 55+).

Opposition lessens depending on the sector in question, however, as some industries appear to be seen as more justified in putting these surcharges in place. Hair salons are at the top of the list, with a slim majority (51%) within the province supporting surcharges, with support for restaurants (47%) and other small businesses (46%) not far behind. While a large minority is also sympathetic to the concept of surcharges for other personal health service providers (44%), and other service providers (42%), opposition is firmly entrenched when it comes to large chain retailers (only 20% support and 75% oppose) doing the same thing.

Younger residents (18-34) are much more supportive than older residents for these surcharges when it comes to hair salons, restaurants and other small, non-chain retailers, as support levels are 10-20 points higher, perhaps because this segment is far more likely to be employed in these sectors and a higher level of empathy exists.

Despite the opposition to specifically labelled COVID-19 surcharges, there is an expectation among BC residents that the pandemic will result in higher inflation and overall prices. The vast majority (75%) believe that once the Canadian and local economy opens up more fully we can expect higher inflation. This belief is split between 33% who expect ‘a lot higher inflation’, and 42% who feel there will be ‘a little higher inflation’. Surprisingly very few (5%) believe we will enter into a post-pandemic era of deflation.

On a similar note, the majority of British Columbians (64%) agree that ‘we will have to accept that we will have to pay more in the future for many products and services’, including 17% who ‘agree strongly’, and 47% who ‘agree somewhat’. This feeling is supported across all age, gender and regional segments.

Alongside the sentiment of higher prices and inflation overall, there is a sense that some businesses will be desperate enough that there will be some great deals on products and services as the economy opens up. A total of 46% agree with this idea (12% ‘agree strongly’, and 34% ‘agree somewhat’). This view is by no means universally held as there is an equally strong 37% who disagree with this expectation.

A major trend coming out of this pandemic is the hyper-localization of purchase intentions and customer loyalty, as the vast majority of British Columbians indicate that they proactively seeking out and supporting businesses that are local. There is an equal level of strong agreement about actively trying to buy from businesses that form part of the local neighbourhood (79%), BC businesses (81%) and Canadian businesses (82%).

There is also a strong desire to avoid businesses who have reportedly been unfair to their employees as part of the response to the pandemic, as 63% of BC residents agree with this.

“Consumer sentiment in this province has shifted to hyper-localization and support of businesses that are part of our local economy,” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “Small and medium-sized businesses have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, putting them front and centre in the media spotlight. And while consumers are not willing to pay for COVID-19 specific surcharges, there is an overall expectation that things will cost more, and there seems to be a willingness to accept this.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from May 27, 2020 to May 31, 2020 among a sample of 893 BC residents. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West