HH How U.S. Consumers Are Spending Differently During COVID-19

In 2019, nearly 70% of U.S. GDP was driven by personal consumption.

However, in the first quarter of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a transformation of consumer spending trends as we once knew them.

Consumer Spending in Charts

By leveraging new data from analytics platform 1010Data, today’s infographic dives into the credit and debit card spending of five million U.S. consumers over the past few months.

Let’s see how their spending has changed over that time:

(Click on image to enlarge)

The above data on consumer spending, powered by AI platform Exabel, is broken into 18 different categories:

  • General Merchandise & Grocery: Big Box, Pharmacy, Wholesale Club, Grocery
  • Retail: Apparel, Office Supplies, Pet Supplies
  • Restaurant: Casual dining, Fast casual, Fast food, Fine dining
  • Food Delivery: Food delivery, Grocery Delivery, Meal/Snack kit
  • Travel: Airline, Car rental, Cruise, Hotel

It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has consumers cutting back on most of their purchases, but that doesn’t mean that specific categories don’t benefit from changes in consumer behavior.

Consumer Spending Changes By Category

The onset of changing consumer behavior can be observed from February 25, 2020, when compared to year-over-year (YoY). As of May 12, 2020, combined spending has dropped by almost 30% YoY. Here’s how that shakes out across the different categories, across two months.

General Merchandise & Grocery

This segment saw a sharp spike in initial spending, as Americans scrambled to stockpile on non-perishable food, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper from Big Box stores like Walmart, or Wholesale Clubs like Costco.

In particular, spending on groceries reached a YoY increase of 97.1% on March 18, 2020. These sudden panic-buying urges leveled out by the start of April.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Pharmaceutical purchases dropped the most in this segment, possibly as individuals cut back on their healthcare expenditures during this time. In fact, in an April 2020 McKinsey survey of physicians, 80% reported a decline in patient volumes.

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