8 Ways Coronavirus Has Changed Our Spending Habits
Our lives look a lot different now from the way they did even two months ago. The coronavirus pandemic turned our world upside down, drastically changing how people travel, work, parent and more.
No matter how your pre-pandemic life looked, one thing you’ve probably altered is your spending. From impulse shopping to panic buying, Americans are spending money in ways we’ve never seen before.
Here’s a look at some of the most interesting numbers about our coronavirus spending habits.
1. A Third Of Americans Are Stress-Spending
With a global pandemic at hand, it’s no surprise that many people are feeling more stressed out than usual. There are many different coping strategies for stress, and for some, it’s spending money.
A recent survey by Credit Karma found that 35% of respondents made impulse buys to deal with stress during the coronavirus.
Among those who said they’ve made impulse purchases, close to half (45%) said they spend money because of stress at least once a week. Another 17% make impulse buys daily.
The survey also found that nearly one in five (18%) respondents are actually spending more now than they were before the pandemic.
2. Entertainment And Alcohol Make Up Half Of All Nonessential Spending
Though you’re probably spending less money going out to bars and movies (like, none at all), there’s a good chance your spending on other escapist activities has increased.
Americans are spending the most nonessential money on entertainment (29%) and alcohol (23%) right now, according to a survey by WalletHub. Eighteen percent of respondents admitted that they’re actually overspending on nonessentials as well.
3. Online Shopping Is Up 60% Over Last Year
With more time stuck at home and most nonessential stores closed down, Americans have taken their shopping online. Online sales of consumer packaged goods are up 60% over the same week last year, according to Nielsen data for the week ending April 25.
Of the items purchased online, food is up the most: 86% for the one-week period ending April 25 versus the same week in 2019. That’s followed by household care (up 51%), health and beauty care (up 49%), pet care (up 24%) and baby care (up 23%).
4. Hand Sanitizer Sales Grew More Than Any Other Item In Stores
Though we’re forced to do more shopping online, essential businesses are still open to the public ― and the one item that’s seen the biggest surge in sales at physical stores is hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizer takes the number one spot for in-store week-over-week sales growth. Last week, it held the third position but rose as people restocked their health and safety products. Sales of the stuff have also increased a whopping 420% over a year ago, according to Nielsen.
Behind hand sanitizer, the fastest-growing in-store purchases are oat milk (up 308% over the previous year), fresh meat alternatives (up 224%), baking powder (up 170%) and aerosol disinfectants (up 158%).
5. Frozen Items Are The Most-Purchased Foods
As Americans worry about limiting their trips to the grocery store and potential disruptions to food supply chains, many are focused on buying foods that keep for a long time.
Not surprisingly, frozen foods are the top growing in-store purchases (up 47% year over year), according to Nielsen data. That’s followed by meat (up 41%) and dairy (up 32%) as consumers continue to load up on food staples.
6. Spending On Transportation Is Way Down
Not only are we spending more time in isolation, but attitudes toward public transportation have also shifted considerably in the past month, according to a survey by IBM.
More than 20% of respondents who regularly relied on buses, subways or trains said they no longer will, while another 28% said they will likely use public transportation less often.
Ride-sharing apps are also suffering. More than half of those surveyed who had used ride-sharing apps and services said they will stop using them completely or use them less. Only 24% said they will stop using taxis and other traditional car services.
Just over 17% of respondents said they will rely on their personal vehicles to get around, with about one in four saying that that will be their exclusive mode of transportation going forward.
Many of those who were in the market for a new car are now waiting on the purchase, with about a quarter saying they plan to hold off for more than six months.
7. 40% Of Spenders Rely On Contactless Payment
There have been concerns over physical cash and its potential to spread the coronavirus. In light of this, consumers are turning to technology to mitigate their risk.
Nearly 40% of respondents said they are likely to use contactless payment options via their mobile device or credit card when shopping, according to the IBM survey.
8. A Quarter Of Shoppers Are Buying More From Local Businesses
With mandatory shutdown orders for nonessential businesses, even major retailers are feeling the pinch. Smaller mom and pop shops are especially hurting financially, which has prompted some people to prioritize shopping locally.
Some 25% of respondents in the IBM survey said they are now shopping more often at locally owned stores and buying more locally made, grown or sourced products.
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