Coronavirus Shopping Survey: 58 Million Americans Are Spending More Under Lockdown 
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Coronavirus Shopping Survey: 58 Million Americans Are Spending More Under Lockdown 

Coronavirus Shopping Survey: 58 Million Americans Are Spending More Under Lockdown 

The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way the world shops, perhaps forever in some respects. WalletHub conducted a nationally representative survey to see how the shopping habits of Americans have evolved during this time of crisis.

One of the most surprising results of the survey was that 58 million Americans are actually spending more money while social distancing, despite being able to go out less, in large part because many are participating in “comfort buying” – or shopping as a way to relieve stress and boredom.

Below are highlights from the survey, which included questions ranging from what types of non-essential items people are purchasing most to whether they have concerns about the safety of packages or food delivery.

Complete survey results can be found on WalletHub’s website. They include an infographic, survey methodology, and a more detailed breakdown and analysis of the respondent’s answers.

Key findings

Some Americans are shopping more during the pandemic: 58 million Americans are spending more money while social distancing.

Many people use shopping to ease stress: 43 percent of Americans have participated in “comfort buying” in social isolation.

Deliveries cause anxiety: 57 percent of Americans are concerned about package safety while comfort buying.

People worry about food contamination: 60 percent of Americans are concerned about the safety of having food delivered during the pandemic.

People use entertainment and drinking to take the edge off: Americans are spending the most “non-essential” money on entertainment (29 percent) and alcohol (23 percent) right now.

Q&A with WalletHub Analyst

How has social distancing affected Americans’ spending habits?

“During social distancing, about 58 million Americans are spending more than normal, which is concerning considering the dire state the economy is in at the moment,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “While some overspending may be attributed to stockpiling essentials, other Americans may be spending beyond their means because of stress or simply boredom.”

How common is “comfort buying” to relieve the stress of social distancing?

“Comfort buying to relieve the stress of social distancing is fairly common, with 43 percent of Americans saying they have done it. Of those who have engaged in comfort buying, 63 percent are keeping their purchases below the $150 mark,” said Gonzalez. “It’s interesting that comfort buying behaviors vary by age. Around 60 percent of people aged 30 to 44 report comfort buying, compared with just 32 percent of people over age 59.”

Are Americans worried about packages they order being contaminated by coronavirus?

“Around 57 percent of Americans worry about the safety of packages they order during the pandemic, and around half care about the state or country from which a package is being shipped,” said Gonzalez. “Nearly 60 percent of Americans worry about contamination in food deliveries during the pandemic. Even though delivery and takeout orders are readily available, some people may be too apprehensive to order.”

Aside from essential purchases, what are people spending the most on right now?

“The most common type of non-essential purchase people make is entertainment, closely followed by alcohol, which might make sense since both are ways to take people’s minds off the crisis,” said Gonzalez. “Despite social distancing protocols, the surge in videoconferencing has led people to keep up with their physical appearance more than you might think, as some of the most popular spending categories are clothing and beauty products.”

 

Adam McCann has written and edited content for WalletHub since August 2017. He specializes in credit cards and personal loans, and writes a variety of pieces, from guides for people new to credit to WalletHub’s weekly “Best and Worst” studies.

Published: May 1st, 2020

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