FIRST ReportFacteus Insight Report on Spending and Transactions (FIRST) Gain Insight on Changes in Consumer Spending Transactions
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 in our panel for the week ending March 7 showed an average year over year decline of 7% across all categories, an increase of 5 percentage points from last week. Notably, the Travel segment continues to show lower declines across the board – likely a combination of the denominator deteriorating from travel collapsing last year and increased travel this year. Gains in the Retail segment are primarily led by year over year growth in Department Store and Discount Store spending. Restaurants and fast food continue to show strength in spending with 13% and 10% year over year growth, respectively.
**Note: As the COVID-19 impact on consumer spending reaches a 1-year anniversary, we will be analyzing not only year over year comparisons, but will be including 2021 to 2019 comparisons in the near future to help in comparing some of the inevitable year over year growth numbers across certain categories.
Average spending in the Retail segment increased by 4 percentage points to 10% year over year growth. Wholesale Clubs continue reverting to lower year over year growth after highs in early January, while Discount Retail breaks the downward trend with a 10% increase week over week. Similar week over week gains were seen for both Amazon and Walmart. Meanwhile, Home Supply Warehouse spend continues growing with a 7% week over week gain.
Average category spending in the Entertainment segment saw an increase of 2 percentage points a decline of 6% year over year. The Restaurant and Fast-Food categories continue growing week over week by 3%. Video Games spending stayed flat week to week. Movie theaters have seen an increase in year over year spending over the past couple of weeks (up to a decline of 66%) and we will be watching that category in coming weeks.
The Travel Segment categories continued to show positive week over week growth, with spend in Airlines growing by 16%, Cruise Lines by 3% and overall Travel Bookings growing 20% and showing an overall 10% year over year growth rate.