MENLO PARK, Calif. -- June 25, 2020 -- Anonymized data from over half a million users of Quicken, America’s best-selling personal finance software, underscores just how suddenly and dramatically Americans changed both their spending behavior and lifestyles as a result of COVID-19.
“The spending trends we’re seeing across our users reveal how people’s lives have been upended over the past few months,” said Eric Dunn, CEO of Quicken. “Spending early in the year was strong in nearly every category, but when the pandemic hit we saw drastic spending swings. The data illustrates the challenges that many business sectors are currently facing and paints a dramatic picture of life during the pandemic.”
With the onset of shelter in place and quarantine orders, as well as moves to conduct both work and education from home, there were clear changes in the way Americans spent their money. The biggest drops came from travel and restaurants, while at home expenses like grocery, liquor and home improvement spiked early in the pandemic.
Consumers quickly filled the fridge, but restaurants took a major hit
- Quicken users spent nearly 50% more on groceries in March, compared to February.
- Pets got some extra attention as well — with average spending on pet food and supplies increasing 30% in the same period of time.
- Restaurant spending during the pandemic was cut significantly — down 21% in March and 39% in April compared to the previous month.
- Fast food also saw a dip, but it was less dramatic than restaurants, with spending down 15% in March and 21% in April compared to the previous month. Both restaurants and fast food saw small gains in May (1% for restaurants and 2% for fast food).
Instead of traveling, people invested in their homes
- As the reality of the pandemic’s widespread effect hit in March, spending on travel began to decline (down 44% compared to February) and hit rock bottom in April (down 70% from March).
- While travel spending came back slightly in May compared to April, it was still well below spending in January and February. Overall spending on travel picked up 34% -- including airfare up 71% and hotel spending up 43% -- in May as compared to April.
- Still, airfare spending in March, April and May, combined, totaled only 85% of the February spend.
- Home improvement expenses increased in March by 35% compared to February. Lawn and garden spending was also up 38% in March, 23% in April and 15% in May, compared to each month prior.
Self-care spending dropped but is seeing signs of recovery
- Personal care spending ticked down in March and plunged in April. For example, spending on spa and massages decreased by 21% in March and 63% in April compared to the month prior, and hair care was down 23% in March and 68% in April, compared to the month prior.
- In May there was a small uptick for these categories, as well as necessary care such as dentists and eye care.
- Spending on spa and massage saw a 34% increase in May and hair care was up 86% in May compared to April. Spending on dentists and eye care fell only a bit in March (down 24% and 18% from February, respectively) but came down drastically in April (down 60% and 57% from March, respectively). These two categories bounced back a little in May (increased 58% for dentists and 38% for eye care from April).
Community support remains strong
- Another category where spending actually increased from earlier this year was charitable donations. Charitable giving was up in both March and April, relative to February (14% and 15%, respectively).
Additional data is available at: https://www.quicken.com/blog/covid-19-spending-trends.
Quicken is the #1 personal finance software in the US. For over 30 years, customers have relied on Quicken to manage all their finances, so they can lead healthy financial lives. In 2016, Quicken, formerly part of Intuit, became an independent company. Its desktop and cloud product suite includes a family of products that cater to different financial needs and device preferences — Quicken Starter Edition, Quicken Deluxe, Quicken Premier, and Quicken Home & Business, all of which can sync with Quicken’s website and mobile apps — as well as Simplifi for mobile and web. Simplifi is designed to help a new generation of mobile-first customers easily stay on top of their finances. Over 17 million people have used a Quicken product to manage their finances. Learn more at www.quicken.com.