Consumer spending is up, but don’t call it a comeback

People are droppin’ dollars… and gearing up for a second coronavirus wave.

July 6, 2020

Photo by: OneWeb Satelites


Accounting for ⅔ of US economic output, consumer spending is a big effing deal.

The good news? Spending is up!

The bad news? Our collective wallet’s gonna snap shut again as COVID cases rise in many states.

The data on our spending habits paints an interesting picture: Many of us seem ready to hunker down for the long haul. Social distancing is getting old, but without an end in sight, we’re looking for ways to improve our domestic lives.

Home is where the heart is

We’re staying put, and we’re splurging on around-the-house projects:

  • Home-improvement spending is up 40%.
  • Furniture sales are up 28%.

Many of us have grown more ambitious in the kitchen, but food-delivery spending via services like Grubhub and UberEats is up ~186% compared to pre-pandemic weekly averages.

At-home drinking is also up. One survey found that 44% won’t be back in the bars for a long time. Sales at wine and liquor stores, meanwhile, continue to show double-digit increases.

Demand for aluminum cans is now so high that some beverages — like the underrated Fresca — have been pushed off the shelves.

But cabin fever is real, man

Spending on Airbnb and HomeAway bookings are up 6% compared with the same period last year, but people are still avoiding crowded spaces like airports and hotels.

Even if travel isn’t in the cards for everyone, we want to get out. Sales of sporting equipment shot up 48% compared to last year, for the week ending June 24. Good luck getting your butt on a bike.

Looking good

Virtual haircuts might be a viable substitute for the ol’ salad-bowl-and-snip, but salon sales leapt as soon as municipal authorities allowed them to reopen.

However, revenues haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, and salon reopenings have petered off since May. Capacity limits and additional clean-up time between clients have made business as usual a no-go.

But you know what? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and maybe now is the time to change our definition of style. Long live the pandemullet.

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