The Pulse: Inflation and the Economy

The Pulse of the American Consumer is focused on continued insight into consumer sentiments for businesses across all industries.


The cause of the current inflation occurring in America is up for debate, with some consumers believing it is due to coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others believe it is a by-product of government spending. Other consumers believe it a combination and further do not have any opinion on the cause of inflation. In order for businesses to have the most success connecting with their consumers, they have to understand them – what they are interested in, what they need, and how they feel. At ENGINE, we have the real-time pulse of the consumer, today, and always. Throughout 2021, we will be offering weekly insights through identifying important data points and trends from the voice of the consumer.


KEY FINDINGS AS OF July 18, 2021:

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If you would like more information on ENGINE CARAVAN surveys, contact us below:

At ENGINE, we will be keeping up with the pulse of the consumer throughout 2021, and are regularly running our CARAVAN surveys on current social issues. Contact us at for more information or for the full CARAVAN survey findings.

This Online CARAVAN® omnibus surveys were conducted on January 8-10, January 15-17, January 22-24, January 29-31, February 5-7, February 12-14,  February 19-21, February 26-28, March 5-7, March 12-14, March 19-21, March 26-28, April 2-4, April 9-11, April 16-18, April 23-25, April 30-May 2, May 7-9, May 14-16, May 21-23, June 2-6, June 11-13, June 18-20, June 25-27, July 9-11, and July 16-18, 2021.  Approximately 1,000 adults selected from opt-in panels were surveyed. The results are also weighted to U.S. Census data to be demographically representative.

Written by the CARAVAN team at ENGINE Insights.

The Pulse of the American Consumer

Consumer Insights for Business

Summer vacation, severe weather, inflation, and billionaires in space are all on the minds of Americans this week.

Gain insight on these issues and more in this week’s The Pulse of the American Consumer.

How closely have you followed these recent events?

  • The latest developments concerning COVID-19 infections in the United States
    • 68% Closely
      • 80% Democrats
      • 59% Republicans
    • 34% Very Closely
  • News reports regarding hesitancy to receive the COVID-19 vaccine among segments of the U.S. population
    • 66% Closely
      • 78% Republicans
      • 57% Democrats
    • 33% Very Closely
  • Legislation several U.S. states are introducing to increase restrictions on voting
    • 56% Closely
      • 68% Republicans
      • 52% Democrats
    • 27% Very Closely
  • President Biden’s decision to withdraw remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan
    • 55% Closely
      • 63% Republicans
      • 50% Democrats
    • 24% Very Closely
  • Richard Branson/Virgin Galactic’s launch to the edge of space

    • 40% Closely
      • 41% Gen Z
      • 47% Millennials
      • 38% Gen X
      • 32% Baby Boomers
    • 16% Very Closely
  • The Major League Baseball All-Star Game/ Home Run Derby

    • 28% Closely
      • 41% Gen Z
      • 41% Millennials
      • 23% Gen X
      • 16% Baby Boomers
    • 12% Very Closely
  • The annual Shark Week event on Discovery Channel

    • 28% Closely
      • 45% Gen Z
      • 43% Millennials
      • 25% Gen X
      • 12% Baby Boomers
    • 12% Very Closely

How concerned are you about these issues?

  • The rate by which more and more issues are becoming politicized, rather than trying to find common ground
    • 81% Concerned [Net]
    • 45% Very Concerned
      • 34% Gen Z
      • 41% Millennials
      • 46% Gen X
      • 51% Baby Boomers
  • Reports that indicate the Coronavirus Delta variant is more potent than the original virus strain
    • 75% Concerned [Net]
    • 42% Very Concerned
      • 56% Democrats
      • 27% Republicans
  • The frequency of severe weather events and the potential impact they may have on you
    • 75% Concerned [Net]
    • 36% Very Concerned
      • 49% Democrats
      • 20% Republicans
  • Not being able to reach a high enough overall immunity level in the United States due to ongoing hesitancy/refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
    • 72% Concerned [Net]
    • 37% Very Concerned
      • 52% Democrats
      • 21% Republicans
  • There is an existence of UFOs that could threaten U.S. national security
    • 35% Concerned [Net]
    • 14% Very Concerned
      • 16% Gen Z
      • 24% Millennials
      • 13% Gen X
      • 4% Baby Boomers

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of these statements?

  • It is possible to address gun safety measures, while protecting second amendment rights
    • 76% Agree [Net]
    • 39% Strongly Agree
      • 53% Democrats
      • 25% Republicans
  • I am growing increasingly concerned about the Delta variant of the Coronavirus
    • 70% Agree [Net]
    • 35% Strongly Agree
  • The Republican Party should move on from Donald Trump and the general mindset of ‘Trumpism
    • 69% Agree [Net]
    • 47% Strongly Agree
      • 71% Democrats
      • 19% Republicans
  • I consider the space flight Richard Branson/ Virgin Galactic just completed more about a billionaire ‘showing off’ rather than something that will eventually open boundaries to the larger population
    • 66% Agree [Net]
    • 28% Strongly Agree
  • I believe in the existence of UFOs
    • 62% Agree [Net]
    • 25% Strongly Agree
      • 30% Gen Z
      • 34% Millennials
      • 22% Gen X
      • 19% Baby Boomers
  • I am looking forward to watching the Summer Olympic games
    • 59% Agree [Net]
    • 24% Strongly Agree
  • I have faith in the stability of the election system in the United States
    • 52% Agree [Net]
    • 23% Strongly Agree
      • 34% Democrats
      • 12% Republicans
  • If the cost were reasonable, I would be willing to take a space flight in the future such as the one Richard Branson/Virgin Galactic just completed
    • 41% Agree [Net]
    • 16% Strongly Agree
      • 19% Gen Z
      • 25% Millennials
      • 13% Gen X
      • 11% Baby Boomers

Summer Vacation Consumer Insights

52% of U.S. Adults have already taken, or plan to take a vacation this summer. This is especially true among younger generations compared to their older counterparts:

  • Gen Z—69%
  • Millennials—63%
  • Gen X—47%
  • Boomers—44%

Among these vacationers, there have been a number of challenges experienced along the way, including:

  • 37% Travel costs (gas, rental cars, airline tickets being too high)
  • 33% Costs for destinations/hotels being much higher than previously experienced
  • 25% Having to consider safety measures such as the ability to social distance
  • 24% Trying to avoid locations/geographic areas that currently have a higher rate of the coronavirus present/low vaccination rates
  • 22% Concerns over having to leave pets at home/finding a capable pet sitter
  • 20% Preferred destinations being fully booked and then having to settle on a different destination
  • 17% Preferred week/time to travel not being available
  • 14% Waiting to go away until self/family members are vaccinated

An additional 48% of U.S. Adults have no plans to vacation this summer, citing the following reasons:

  • 36% The costs to go away/ travel have become far too expensive this summe
  • 36% Financial situation is the same or worse than it was compared to last year
  • 30% Just not being comfortable with it yet, despite a year of living with safety measures such as social distancing and wearing a mask
  • 29% Concern about being around others who are not vaccinated
  • 27% Still having concerns about staying at a hotel and contracting COVID-19 from other guests
  • 27% Still having concerns about traveling on an airplane and contracting COVID-19 from other passengers
  • 23% Still planning to stay at home until coronavirus cases are almost completely gone
  • 10% Other members of family still have safety concerns about going away
  • 8% Vacation spots that are interested in traveling to still may not be open/ have limited amenities
  • 7% Have not received the vaccine for COVID-19/do not expect to receive it
  • 5% Lack of availability at the destinations/hotels like to go to

Inflation and The Economy

34% of U.S. Adults believe that the current inflation is primarily a natural by-product of coming out of the COVID pandemic as supply chain and labor markets adjust (50% of Democrats vs. 16% of Republicans), while another 22% think it is primarily a by-product of excessive government stimulus and deficit spending (36% of Republicans vs. 14% of Democrats). 31% see both as having an equal influence, while 13% have no opinion.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of these statements?

  • I am worried about the long term impact of inflation on building materials such as lumber
    • 74% Agree [Net]
    • 34% Strongly Agree
  • Recent inflation/higher costs have had an impact on my purchase decisions for durable goods such as clothing, electronics, or furniture
    • 72% Agree [Net]
    • 32% Strongly Agree
  • Recent inflation/higher costs have had an impact on my purchase decisions for everyday household products such as groceries
    • 71% Agree [Net]
    • 33% Strongly Agree
  • I am concerned about making discretionary purchases now due to inflation leading to a higher cost of living
    • 71% Agree [Net]
    • 29% Strongly Agree
  • I am concerned that inflation is going to impact my holiday shopping plans this year
    • 63% Agree [Net]
    • 28% Strongly Agree
  • I think the current concerns with inflation are going to be a temporary matter, and will adjust after just a few more months
    • 54% Agree [Net]
    • 18% Strongly Agree

53% of U.S. Adults approve of the first monthly advance child tax credit payments that were distributed to qualified American households. This sentiment was significantly higher among Democrats (72%) than Republicans (31%). When asked about several statements regarding the child tax credits, U.S. Adults said:

  • They will be beneficial for helping children living in poverty
    • 77% Agree [Net]
    • 38% Strongly Agree
      • 53% Democrats
      • 21% Republicans
  • They will not have any impact on my household one way or another
    • 72% Agree [Net]
    • 46% Strongly Agree
  • It is too soon to tell if they will have an overall positive or negative impact
    • 69% Agree [Net]
    • 23% Strongly Agree
  • It is going to discourage some capable adults from seeking employment
    • 64% Agree [Net]
    • 29% Strongly Agree
      • 20% Democrats
      • 45% Republicans
  • They will be good for boosting the U.S. economy
    • 64% Agree [Net]
    • 24% Strongly Agree
      • 37% Democrats
      • 12% Republicans
  • The funding should instead be put towards hard infrastructure improvements (roads, bridges, railways, water pipes, etc.)
    • 54% Agree [Net]
    • 23% Strongly Agree
      • 18% Democrats
      • 30% Republicans
  • They are yet another example of wasteful government spending
    • 51% Agree [Net]
    • 24% Strongly Agree
      • 51% Democrats
      • 24% Republicans


Dig deeper with the ENGINE Insights COVID Dashboard

The ENGINE COVID-19 dashboard delivers an easy-to-use, self-serve platform providing access to all of our COVID-19 tracking data including industry specific deep-dives and online behavioral data. This tool puts ENGINE’s data in your hands to uncover meaningful insights to your specific business questions.