The Pandemic Year Forever Changed How Most Americans Budget and Spend, Slickdeals Survey Finds

Six in ten Americans report that the COVID-19 pandemic year has permanently changed their spending and shopping habits, according to a new survey commissioned by social shopping platform Slickdeals.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Slickdeals, the survey of 2,000 general population Americans examined pandemic-era spending and saving trends and revealed that 2020 has forever affected how 60% of people budget and spend their money.

The study found that over the course of the pandemic year, consumers spent much less money on things like movies (49%), luxury goods (46%), video games (42%), clothes (42%) and entertainment (41%).

However, Americans increased their spending on groceries (41%), self-care products (23%), bills (22%), takeout (22%) and healthcare (20%).

Nearly half (49%) said they were panic-buying essential goods at the beginning of the pandemic. At that time, the most panic-bought items included toilet paper (50%), cleaning supplies (42%), hand sanitizer (41%), water (41%) and paper towels (40%).

One year later, these habits have calmed down, but 14% of people report continuing to panic-buy.

People are still purchasing essential items like toilet paper (35%), water (31%), cleaning supplies (30%), hand sanitizer (29%) and paper towels (28%) more than they did prior to the start of the pandemic.

More than half (58%) of people said they reallocated their “going out” budget for staying in, with 41% of people spending more money on redecorating their home. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of these nesters feel more pride in their homes since they began investing more money and time into them.

However, not all spending changes were a choice or simple reallocation of budget. Two out of five Americans said they had a “significant” financial setback or loss in 2020. For 75% of them, their money problems made them reevaluate their long-term budgets.

In addition to budget cuts, 43% of people had to deal with unexpected expenses within the past year, including new bills (31%), new savings costs (22%), clothes (22%) and groceries (19%). Also frequently mentioned were funerals, medicine and health expenses.

More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents said they received a stimulus check within the past year. For most, their stimulus money was spent on the necessities — bills (58%), groceries (34%) and savings (29%).

American spending habits also point towards hunting for the perfect deal. Over half (54%) would be willing to spend more than their budget would allow if the item they want is on sale.

Nearly as many (52%) are willing to buy things in bulk if they’re on sale. All the same, eight in ten Americans are more likely to buy essential items on sale than non-essential items and luxuries.

When the paycheck comes in, 69% of Americans will first tackle their bills. After that, however, they will go shopping for groceries (54%), spend money on transportation expenses (31%), clothes (25%), medications (21%) and their pets (21%).

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