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.
Starting this week, we will be offering a view of spending in 2021 compared to 2020 as well as 2019 to help us understand the trends we’re seeing as the impacts of the lockdowns began last year around this time. Compared to 2020, consumer spending in our panel for the week ending March 14 showed an average growth of 4% across all categories, the first growth since early January. This comes primarily from Department Stores where we saw tremendous growth in absolute spending in the category. Meanwhile, for the other categories in the Retail segment, we see sharp declines week over week as last year there was spikes in Grocery, Discount & Variety Stores, and Wholesale Clubs. Relatedly, we see large gains for Restaurants with growth in absolute spending in 2021 compared to 2020 as consumers shifted toward eating at home. The growth in these categories is evident when looking at the 2021 vs. 2019 periods. The Travel segment, which was severely impacted by the lockdowns, shows positive year over year growth for all categories except Cruise Lines. Again, this growth is evident in the comparison of 2021 vs. 2019 when looking at the week over week changes.
We have included below 2 charts, showing the Year-over-Year comparisons for 2021 to 2020, as well as 2021 to 2019.
Average spending in the overall Retail segment decreased by 6 percentage points to 4% year over year growth. Despite the large growth from department stores, Wholesale Clubs and Discount & Variety Stores all saw week over week declines as consumer spending spiked during the same period last year. Amazon shows a week over week gain of 5% while Walmart declined 12% week over week. Meanwhile, Home Supply Warehouse spend continues growing with an 8% week over week gain.
Average category spending in the Entertainment segment saw an increase of 10 percentage points to a year of year growth of 4%. The Restaurant and Fast-Food categories continue growing week over week by 23% and 12%, respectively. Video Games spending stayed relatively flat week to week, with a 2% decline.
The Travel Segment categories continues to the biggest jumps in positive week over week growth, with spend in Airlines growing by 32%, Cruise Lines by 16% and Travel Bookings by a staggering 51%. The overall travel segment showed a positive year over year growth for the first time this year at 5%.