The Unmasking of America? Take 2

The lifting of mask mandates signals a positive step forward in the Journey Back To Joy. So what will consumers do now given the choice?


With Omicron cases continuing to fall, mask mandates are becoming a thing of the past for vaccinated Americans, but will consumers still be donning them after the mandates are gone?

Last week, many of the states with the strictest covid protocols dropped mask mandates for vaccinated Americans - New York, California, Illinois and several others. With that news, behemoth retailers Walmart and Amazon swiftly followed suit lifting mandates for its vaccinated workers. Two other moves by these retailers included dropping daily health screening and paid time off for Covid symptoms unless these two policies were required by local governments.


From our data, there are two outcomes that we predict that may not seem so obvious at the moment.

  • Lifting paid time off for “covid symptoms” is part of many companies' revised covid policies and will likely improve the labor shortage challenges. Why? Hourly workers may just have “gamed” the system a bit on this one. My bet is that they will think twice before calling out sick now when it means money less money in their pocket.

  • Will consumers shed their masks forever? Maybe, but I don’t think it will be immediate based on our latest data.

Lifting of paid time off for “covid symptoms” will likely improve the labor shortage challenges.

Wearing masks have become a habit, and like a security blanket for some. We hear from consumers that it feels odd to go into a store or movie unmasked because we’ve been doing it for so long now. The result, they choose to mask up even though they don’t have to. For many, unwinding this behavior will take time, for others they may never stop wearing them, especially those that are Anxious /Very Anxious.


In fact, 64% of Americans report still wearing masks. That is down 21pts vs January 2021, yet it’s still the majority of us. The gender divide throughout covid remains with women continuing to be more cautious and more anxious throughout the pandemic. Masking up is no different with 71% of women wearing masks vs. only 57% for men. Not surprisingly, the numbers vary dramatically by our Covid segmentation as well.


% Agree/Strongly agree “I wear a mask every time I go out”

64% Total US (-21pt vs Jan 2021)

71% Women

57% Men


% Agree/Strongly agree “I wear a mask every time I go out”

64% Total US (-21pt vs Jan 2021)

40% First out the Door

65% Taking it Slow

64% Wait and see

82% Anxious

83% Very Anxious



When looking at the data by region, yes, it varies, but not as much as one might expect.


% Agree/Strongly agree “I wear a mask every time I go out”

By Region:

66% Northeast

73% West

60% Midwest

61% South




When looking at the data by political affiliation, we see dramatic, but not unexpected differences. Democrats are significantly more likely say they wear masks every time they go out, yet half of Republicans are as well.


% Agree/Strongly agree “I wear a mask every time I go out”

By Political Affiliation

82% Democrat

56% Republican


Lack of masking is hurting ‘frequency’ of visits to retailers, restaurants and movies among a significant number of people.

This next point may surprise you, 60% of those dining at a restaurant and 67% of those who shopped in store reported being frustrated by “customers not wearing masks” which is up +18 pt and +11pt respectively since January. So lack of masking is hurting ‘frequency’ of visits among a significant number of people.



Why does this matter?

  • As we move out of covid, there will be many learned behaviors that linger. This may be one of them that when given the choice, some will still be masking up for awhile.

  • The unintended consequence, if unvaccinated workers are to remain masked up, this could lead to yet another way our country is divided instead of united in our journey.

And so begins the next chapter from mandates to personal choice.




Survey data was collected the week ending January 17, 2022, by Lisa W. Miller & Associates and Prodege, LLC from a representative sample of 999 adults 18 years and older.


Click here to learn more about this thought-provoking initiative "Gearing Up For The Consumer Re-entry & The The Journey Back to Joy"


#journeybacktojoy #marketing #management #omicron #covid






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