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Consumers ready to spend as COVID-19 restrictions lift, survey finds

With an estimated $1.7 trillion in excess savings accumulated during the pandemic, Americans are eager to shop, eat out and travel after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions.

That’s according to new research from global payments company Blackhaw Network, which found that traveling, getting together with friends and family and eating out as the activities consumers are most excited to celebrate together. The majority of survey respondents have big gifting plans, with 76% reporting they anticipate giving more gifts when pandemic restrictions lift. They also plan to spend more, with 79% likely to increase their gift spending.

"We've all missed so many celebrations and milestones this past year, so it makes sense that we're seeing so much pent-up consumer demand aimed towards gifting," said Theresa McEndree, global head of marketing, Blackhawk Network. "Americans are excited to get back to special events, to reunite with their family and friends, and enjoy the connections that gift cards and gifting can provide."

The "Return of Consumer Spending" study asked U.S. consumers where and how they plan to spend after restrictions relax further or lift. Other findings are below.

  • Birthday and holiday spending post-COVID. Surveyed consumers are most excited to celebrate birthdays (73%) and holidays (71%) together. Along with those celebrations, 70% of consumers plan to spend $100 or more on birthdays and 67% plan to spend as much or more on holidays. 
  • Men and Gen Xers are the big spending gifters. Seventy-six percent of surveyed men and 77% of surveyed Gen Xers plan to spend $250 to $500-plus on gifts across all occasions, with birthdays and holidays being the most prevalent.
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