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.
Consumer spending during the week ending Jan 24 was little changed from the prior week, declining 8% year over year, one percentage point worse than the week ending Jan 17. The standout segment remained Retail, but the single best category for the week was Video Games. Also of note was the Restaurant category, which saw its fourth straight week of year over year growth after a miserable 10 months prior.
The aggregate Retail segment in our panel grew 22% year over year, down four percentage points from the prior year. The best performing segments were Discount Stores (+32%) and Home Supply Stores (+44%). Amazon continued to post impressive year over year growth given its size (+52%) and maintained a wide growth gap over its retail rival Walmart.
Spending in the aggregate Entertainment segment declined 6% year over year, one percentage point worse than the prior week. The Video Game category was the stand out at 41% year over year growth. As noted above, the Restaurant category posted year over year growth for the fourth consecutive week, coming in at 9%.
Spending in the aggregate Travel segment declined 48%, one percentage point better than the prior week and not unexpectedly remains the laggard segment in our panel. Air Travel declined 57%, and has been stuck in the mid-50s for the last ten weeks. The Lodging category fell 30% year over year.