The FIRST Report is a series of weekly reports that will shed light on the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the consumer economy in the US. We plan to look at three super categories of the consumer economy: Retail, Entertainment and Travel. Focusing on both sectors and individual merchants, we will provide insight into how consumers are being impacted and how they are reacting in this unprecedented time. Our intent is to help businesses, governments, and economists have a current, accurate view of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic so that they can make informed and timely decisions.
The latest installment of the FIRST report is one that shows little change from the prior week. The most notable trends to point out are in the Restaurant industry, where the overall category spend improved more than the Fast Food segment, and in the Department Store industry, which saw only single-digit spending declines during the week. These trends were consistent with the continued easing of stay-at-home restrictions.
Retail spending accelerated across the major categories in the week ending August 9, growing between 30-45% year over year. Spending in the Home Supply category continued climbing to 44% year-over-year growth.
Walmart narrowed its relative spending growth gap with Amazon slightly, jumping to 11% year-over-year growth compared with Amazon’s fairly steady 73% year on year growth.
Restaurants dipped to a 5% decline year over year while Fast Food continued to grow at 12% above 2019 levels. Video Game spend bounced back to 68% growth year over year, continuing its role as the bright spot for Entertainment consumer spending.
Lodging continues its recovery with a 10% decline year over year and Air Travel keeps moving sideways with a 68% decline from last year. The growing gap between Lodging and Air Travel illustrates consumers’ willingness to hit the road—but not the skies.