Toledoans say the Pandemic is NOT over, but begin return to public places

Posted: Monday, June 15, 2020 by: Victoria Scarberry | Category: Business

Local Research Firm Finds That NW Ohioans Say the Pandemic is NOT over but are Returning to Public Places

Press Release Contact Name: Lori Mitchell Dixon, PhD, President of Great Lakes Marketing Research
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Press Release Contact Phone: 419-534-4710 or 419-351-3625 (cell)
Organization Name: Great Lakes Marketing Research
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Organization Address / City / State: 3361 Executive Parkway Suite 200 Toledo, OH 43606

Most Toledoans said the signal for the end of the pandemic will be a vaccination or when no new cases are being reported.  On par with these expectations, only 7% of Toledoans believe the pandemic is over.

“Toledoans are getting out, and their experiences have been positive,” says Lori Mitchell Dixon, PhD, President of Great Lakes Marketing.  “However, since the data say that most everyone thinks we are not in the clear yet, retailers, service providers, and restaurants must continue to make their customers and patrons feel safe.”

Great Lakes Marketing is a national marketing research firm located in Toledo. For over 55 years, Great Lakes Marketing has been reporting on the views of Toledoans. 

A recent survey of 400 area adults indicates that about 40% have dined in or on a patio since restaurants opened for either indoor or outdoor seating.  And, 92% rated their experience as excellent or good.  Furthermore, 75% said their experience is more likely to get them back in their routine of visiting restaurants.  Those who found the experience less than inspiring said they still have concerns about health risks, or the experience was not relaxing.

“About 6 weeks ago Great Lakes Marketing conducted a similar survey in which  36% said they would go back to public places as soon as they opened.  So, this is good news that consumers are following through—and even better news that their experience will encourage repeat visits,” said Dixon.

Amid continued reminders that “we are all in this together,” there is some promising  news.  About 50% of the survey respondents said they have deliberately increased their use of locally-owned restaurants and retailers.

Travel is going to be slow to rebound.  Of those who were planning a vacation that required air travel between now and the end of the year, 30% are still planning to take that vacation.  Forty percent (40%) have cancelled and the rest (29%) are still unsure.

  • 17% will buy tickets to major events “as they used to”
    • 35% will wait until closer to the event
    • 26% said they won’t buy tickets for the foreseeable future
    • 24% will consider buying tickets for events in July or August

“It is going to take longer for people to feel comfortable making financial commitments in travel and leisure.  The data indicate that the challenge will be for event organizers to create assurances so consumers have confidence that if the event is cancelled,  they will get a refund.  Unless acceptable financial and health-related safeguards can be implemented, it seems risky to plan on holding major events until after August,” said Dixon. 

The April survey found that several Toledoans were using a variety of new services because of the pandemic—from curbside pickup to virtual chats with friends.  However, since then, few additional consumers have started using new services.  This indicates that those services have probably reached their maximum pandemic-related growth.  The trend that did continue is that those using new services are going to continue using them, even post pandemic.  So, investments made to offer those new services will pay off into the future.

There is also  good news for the rebirth of some mature (or even what may seem outdated) industries and product sectors. 

  • 42% are doing more puzzles and playing more board games
  • 40% are reading more
  • 39% are baking and cooking more
  • 34% are gardening more

“It is an opportunity for retailers to shift some focus to ‘new’ old activities,” says Dixon.  “This includes walking shoes and biking gear—two outdoor activities that more people are enjoying and say they will continue doing post pandemic.”

As the way we spend leisure time changes, the increase in physical exercise is offset by more movie streaming.  Thirty-three percent (33%) of movie goers plan to return to the theatre when the doors open, but nearly 75% are watching and renting movies for home viewing.

Great Lakes Marketing is always looking for new members to join their Opinion Panel.  If you want to voice your opinion on matters concerning Toledo, visit to join.  Members are compensated for their time and their information is NEVER sold.