Amid a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases and the larger-scale distribution of vaccines, reports have suggested that consumers’ anxieties are dropping while discretionary spending is on the rise. But that doesn’t necessarily mean shoppers are rushing back to stores to buy clothes and shoes.
According to recent data from Deloitte, which conducted a survey of at least 1,000 respondents across 18 countries, consumers in the United States plan to keep their spending on apparel and footwear flat over the next four weeks compared with the previous four weeks. Globally, only shoppers in two countries, China and India, intend to spend a respective 31% and 25% more on clothes and shoes in the next month.
The financial advisory firm attributed some of those spending patterns to concerns over personal finances. Instead of purchasing footwear and apparel or spending on other discretionary items like electronics, home furnishings and travel, Deloitte found that Americans plan to spend on day-to-day necessities such as groceries (25% more) and utilities (19% more), as well as household goods, medicines, internet or mobile and health care (all up 17%), plus housing (15% more).
“The stress of the pandemic is shifting from personal safety to financial security as we turn the corner and vaccinations become more readily available,” vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and U.S. consumer industry leader Anthony Waelter said in a statement.
And even as consumers feel less anxious, Deloitte suggested that some shopping behaviors are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic patterns anytime soon. Many Americans still plan to avoid congregating with strangers and report a preference for home-centered activities.
In the study, it found that roughly half of all respondents indicated that they would do more of their shopping online compared with 2019. In April last year, U.S. consumers ranked safety as the No. 1 reason to use buy online, pick-up in store, but in the latest survey, the firm discovered that safety dropped to fourth place and was replaced by “cheaper and faster than delivery” — suggesting that shoppers are quickly adopting contactless services due to ease and convenience.
“Consumers won’t necessarily snap back to old habits,” noted Deloitte Insights Consumer Industry Center executive director Stephen Rogers. “As consumers learn more and experience more, we’ll gradually get back to traveling or mingling among large groups, but it likely won’t be at the pre-pandemic levels. Other shifts are more systemic such as working, cooking and streaming from home and convenience through online commerce. They are likely here to stay.”