What We Buy is Changing During Quarantining


We’re going to buy American and we’re going to tip wait staff with greater generosity. Those are just a couple of the changes U.S. consumers expect to bring from the Covid pandemic to their future spending habits, according to a survey conducted by US Ameritrade, shared exclusively with USA Today.

In a video of a conference for manufacturers, Joe Derochowski, a consumer spending analyst with NPD Group, says some changes will be short-lived and some will be long-lasting. Sales of electric pasta makers are five times what they had been before a novel coronavirus sent people to their kitchens to rethink how and what they eat. In search of comfort food in troubling times, people seem to be gravitating toward high-carb foods. Bread-makers have quadrupled in sales, he reports. They found 4 out of 5 households have basic ingredients on hand like eggs, milk and butter, and two out of three say they’ve expanded their recipe repertoire from their normal standbys while quarantined.

Having spent months cooped up at home with most stores closed during stay-at-home orders, consumers have noticed the one line-item in their budgets to have increased is groceries, according to the Ameritrade survey. Those additional “Covid-19 pounds” people complain of having acquired grazing through streaming movies cost money. According to the survey, American say they’re saving money by not going to restaurants (78%); going on vacation (75%); or buying clothes (73%). Their purchase of groceries is up (57%); cleaning products (53%); takeout food (33%); and streaming services (32%).

The lack of or lowering of employment has impacted savings. Before the coronavirus was let loose on mankind more than two thirds of Americans were able to sock money away in a savings account and 70% had savings to draw on in case of emergency. People under the age of 55 are down to three months or less of savings, while Baby Boomers can last six months. Millennials, between 20 and 40 years of age, come through the experience with newfound appreciation for putting a little extra aside.

Where they have been able to save money has been in child care, though they’ve paid in frayed nerves from homeschooling, 57% saying being teacher and parent was just too much to handle all at one. 62% had child care expenses reduced, which many families transferred to entertainment like streaming services and educational resources.

The TD Ameritrade Survey was conducted April 24 to May 4 and included 1,008 adults aged 24+.


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