What you need to know

COVID-19 drastically shifted consumer behavior and altered how various forms of transportation play a role in their everyday life. Prior to the pandemic, personal vehicles were popular modes of transit, but alternate transportation services like ride share companies and public transit providers also maintained a reoccurring role in consumers’ lives. Since the pandemic, most consumers have shifted away from alternate transportation providers in lieu of their personal vehicles so as to guarantee safety and reduced risk of exposure to the virus. Moving forward, the role of transportation will continue to evolve as consumers adjust to the next normal. Consumers will gravitate toward transportation methods that make them feel safe from the virus and look to certain methods not only as a means of getting around but also as an access point to experiences.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the role of transportation in their lives

  • Comparing the impact of the 2008 and COVID-induced recessions on consumer transportation behaviors

  • The increased role that personal vehicles play in consumers’ lives

  • Opportunities for alternate transportation providers to reclaim and reestablish their large role in consumers’ lives


For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

Alternate transportation: any mode of transportation beside personal vehicles including public trains, buses, ride share, docked and dockless bikes and scooters.

COVID-19: US context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic; on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US. 

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, remaining in place through May and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, non-essential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations. Due to the changes in lifestyle and closing of businesses, most consumers’ need for transportation was limited – if not removed completely. When they did need to travel, consumers widely abandoned alternate forms of transportation at this time and put preferential bias toward their personal vehicles as they were deemed the safest and cleanest mode of transit.

During reemergence, all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. The continued spread of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans. Even as stores and businesses reopen, consumers continue to rely more on their personal vehicles or single-passenger alternate methods (eg ride share services).

Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021, until the vaccine is more widely administered.

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