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The future of discretionary spending

Are pandemic spending habits here to stay?

Discretionary spending has taken a hit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — whether that hit is driven by circumstance (limited spending opportunities), choices (preparation for uncertainty), or necessity (loss of income).

Restaurant and retail sales have started to bounce back, but industries like travel — which has higher price points and continued concerns around safety — are still feeling the pain of the pandemic. And although economic conditions are ever-changing, early indicators suggest that current and future spending behaviors are heavily influenced by income, age, and geography.

As governments ease social restrictions and businesses re-engage customers, will an increase in spending follow? And as consumers grapple with when, where and how to spend, will they return to their pre-pandemic habits or will this new reality stick — at least for the immediate future?

To answer these questions and take a closer look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer spending, Hero Digital surveyed 1,600 people in May 2020 to learn more about their behaviors and preferences.

Some key insights from the latest findings…

  • 36% of respondents reported spending less than they were three months ago
  • Affluent consumers are more impacted by a loss of spending opportunity, while lower income customers are more likely to be saving intentionally
  • 87% of respondents said that, in the future, they plan to spend the same or less than they’re spending during the pandemic
  • Those living in regions with a lower rate of infection are more comfortable with resuming social spending