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Snapshot of American Consumer Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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While staying indoors more might lead to greater online spending, consumer spending is down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The inaugural quarterly Consumer Trends Report from e-commerce platform Jungle Scout revealed that 43% of consumers said their overall spending has decreased.

How else have consumers shifted because of the COVID-19 crisis? Here’s what we learned.

Financial stress is causing consumers to tighten their purse strings

With 9.8 million people unemployed across the U.S. as of April, many have suffered financial setbacks. The Consumer Trends Report survey showed:

  • 56% of U.S. consumers said they’re living paycheck to paycheck
  • 48% said they’ve experienced unforeseen financial setbacks in the past three months
  • 23% said they’ve received some form of a loan (federal, private, family or student) in the past three months
  • 22% said their income is lower than it was three months ago

Because finances are tight, American consumers have been scaling back their spending. In fact, nearly 3 out of 4 are becoming more mindful of where they’re spending money, and 70% are shopping for products with a less-hefty price tag.

Priorities: Due to the pandemic, Americans have been prioritizing family, physical well-being and mental health, finances and pets, while putting education and traveling on the back burner.

Top money stressors in 2021: Savings, income, monthly expenses

Financial stress is on the rise, so the Consumer Trends Report examined financial stressors among Americans.

Stressor: Not having enough

  • 57% cited not having enough emergency savings
  • 52% cited not having enough saved for retirement

Stressor: Lacking a steady income

  • 50% cited an up-and-down income
  • 39% cited job security

Stressor: Paying monthly expenses

  • 46% cited utility bills
  • 42% cited rent or mortgage
  • 41% cited medical bills

Stressor: Covering debt

  • 40% cited credit card debt
  • 39% cited feeling they’ll always be in debt
Cost-consciousness: Sixty-nine percent usually research products before deciding to buy, while the same percentage typically make shopping lists or do some sort of planning before making a purchase. The silver lining? That money they’re saving is going into growing their money.

How Americans are getting financial support — and how they handle setbacks

The fact remains — 43% of those surveyed said they’re depending on government stimulus checks. In addition to the types of loans mentioned above, here are the other forms of financial support Americans are receiving or using:

  • 19%: credit cards
  • 6%: grants and scholarships
  • 4%: retirement savings or home equity

Should finances be tight from an unexpected expense or a drop in income, 45% of those surveyed said they’d pull from savings or scale back on expenses to cover a shortfall. But 34% said they wouldn’t be able to afford a setback and would rely on borrowing money, using a credit card or taking out a loan.

Methodology: Austin, Texas-based Jungle Scout surveyed 1,005 consumers between Jan. 26 and Jan. 29, 2021, about their spending behaviors and preferences during the COVID-19 pandemic.