As the COVID-19 pandemic creates major economic and financial distress for consumers around the globe, in Canada, millions of jobs are affected or at risk. In an effort to help organizations make sound decisions, TransUnion is conducting weekly surveys to better understand consumers’ evolving perceptions and expectations. Here are the main findings from week two.
The outbreak’s reality has hit consumers of all generations and income levels. Compared to just a week ago, significantly more Canadians are being stressed financially. However, the launch of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may be helping as fewer consumers report concern about their ability to pay bills over the short term.
Data collected in the week ending 6 April shows:
Of the 63% of Canadians financially affected by COVID-19:
Of those not currently impacted financially, 8% are expecting to be at some point (down from 10% in week one), while 15% aren’t sure if their household income will be affected (no change from week one).
This is down slightly from the previous week (70%) and possibly linked to the launch of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which could also be positively affecting short-term consumer confidence. This week, 40% of those impacted think they can go one to three months before not being able to pay bills, up from 34% in week one.
Impacted Canadians said they won’t be able to pay:
And while comparatively lower in the bill payment rankings, one concerning development was consumers’ inability to pay medical bills increased over 50% week-over-week.
On average, affected consumers expect they’ll be short by C$959.20 (up 2.8% from C$933.40 in week one) when paying bills or loans. The number of consumers short less than C$250 has decreased, while those short between C$1,000 and C$2,000 has increased. There’s an expectation of inability to pay bills or loans in 6.4 weeks (5.8 weeks in week one).
With one out of three (33%) impacted Canadians planning to partially pay bills or debt, the country’s already high debt balance per consumer will increase. To bridge the payment gap:
Payback plans vary across regions. In Western Canada, 70% of consumers are concerned about their ability to pay bills and loans (69% in week one), compared with 67% in the Central Region (70% in week one), and 58% in the Atlantic Region (69% in week one).
As the world adjusts to newly implemented working practices, fraudsters have been quick to find ways of exploiting the pandemic — targeting businesses and individuals.
Over a quarter (27%) of Canadians have been targeted by a fraud scheme related to COVID-19. This includes 25% who didn’t become a victim and 2% who did. Almost one in three Canadians said they’re using free credit monitoring available through many major banks and lenders.
It’s important organizations be proactive in guarding against these attacks. You can educate employees and customers on what to look out for, review monitoring strategies and empower consumers to monitor their own accounts, and update breach response toolkits.
To help businesses and consumers navigate this difficult time, we’re constantly developing helpful resources. To learn more about our weekly consumer research and download the latest reports and infographics, visit https://www.transunion.ca/financial-hardship-study.