November 2, 2023

Industry Trends: Deciphering Post-COVID Japan - Surging Infections, Pervasive Pessimism, and a Thriving Travel Sector

Japan covid Aug 2023


As people gradually emerge from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic and strive to return to normal life, consumer anxiety and fear remain deeply ingrained. The ongoing increase in the number of new cases and challenges in emergency transport maintain the public's heightened alertness toward the pandemic. Remarkably, in these unstable times, the resilience of the travel industry stands out. The desire for travel amongst consumers has intensified under pandemic pressures. As we navigate the post-pandemic era, a broader vision and a deeper understanding are essential to effectively respond to such shifts in consumer behavior.



Unfolding COVID-19 Trends in Japan: Pessimism Persists Despite Downward Perceived Danger

According to the analysis of the experts on the novel coronavirus infection situation, since July 7, there has been a slow upward trend in the number of new cases nationwide. This trend continued for 11 consecutive weeks, even after the legal classification of the disease shifted to the fifth class of infectious diseases. Factors like summer vacations might have increased interpersonal contact, thereby impacting the pandemic situation.

The average number of cases per medical institution, as per the "fixed-point grasp" from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, increased from 14.16 to 17.84 in the week up to August 20, indicating a growing strain on the healthcare system. Despite this, experts on the novel coronavirus infection believe that the medical system has not yet experienced intense stress. However, the situation of difficulties in emergency transport is escalating.

In both "past year's actual feelings" and "estimates for the next year", pessimism persists, occupying half of the respondent pool.


Japan's COVID-19 Paradox: Increasing Cases Despite Declining Perception of Danger

The proportion of individuals who consider the current situation of the novel coronavirus as "very dangerous" (Rated 8 or above on a 10-point scale) dropped by 1 percentage point from the previous month to 12.3%. Conversely, those who think it's "not that serious" (Rated 3 or below on a 10-point scale) increased by 1 percentage point to 33.2%.

Chart 1


Despite the easing of safety measures and the unrestricted resumption of social activities post-May, the number of new cases continues to rise slowly. The perception of the severity of the pandemic has not changed significantly since the last month.


Japan's Post-COVID Consumer Landscape: A Dip in Spending but Resilience in Travel

In the spending forecast for the upcoming month, 29% of respondents anticipate an increase in consumption, and 24% expect a decrease. Compared to the previous month's survey, purchasing intent has dropped slightly.

In specific age groups of 16 to 29 and 30 to 39, approximately 5 percentage points more people anticipate a reduction in their budget compared to last month. On the contrary, in the 'travel' category, the number of people expecting a budget increase still outnumbers those expecting a decrease. This is a rare category where strong consumption intent persists.

Despite Japan's gradual shift towards individual responsibility for pandemic management and the gradual resumption of societal activities, the fear of the novel coronavirus still lingers, and the number of new cases continues to rise. This reality affects consumers' future consumption expectations. Nevertheless, in certain categories like travel, consumption intent remains strong. This might be due to increased desire for travel following lengthy periods of stay-at-home orders.

This study's findings are crucial for decision-makers in relevant industries. Having an accurate understanding of consumers' sentiments and expectations can help them craft effective business strategies in the post-COVID era. Engagement Lab will continue to track the Covid-19 of the Japan public and update survey data, monitoring market trends and changes in consumer demand.



Research by: Engagement Lab
Survey Date: 2023-08-15 to 2023-08-17
Methodology: Online survey
Target Group: Japan internet users aged 18-60
Sample Size: 1336
Editor: TNL Research
Review by: Tatt Chen

* Contents in this report were drafted with input from