Deloitte: Consumers shift to non-discretionary goods during COVID-19

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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U.S. consumers are prioritizing food over vacations.

According to a new biweekly email survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers by Deloitte, respondents are focusing their purchases on life’s necessities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The survey measured net spending intent—the percentage of respondents indicating that they will spend more minus the percentage of those who say they will spend less—in a variety of product categories. 

Not surprisingly, Deloitte saw a net spending intent increase in less discretionary categories, and categories of products and services that support at-home workers. Overall, respondents’ intended spending will produce a net savings of 4% in their budget.

Net spending intent – non-discretionary categories

•    Groceries 40%
•    Everyday household goods 30%
•    Utilities 16%
•    Medicine 11%
•    Home internet/mobile phone 11%
•    Health care 7%
•    Housing 3%

Net spending intent –discretionary categories

•    Travel -50%
•    Auto fuel/motor oil -38%
•    Clothing/apparel/footwear -30%
•    Furnishings -27%
•    Electronics -19%
•    Restaurants/takeout food -18%
•    Books -6%
•    Alcohol -4%
•    Entertainment -4%
•    Cable TV 8% (only discretionary category to show positive growth)

Other noteworthy statistics include:

•    42% of respondents are delaying large purchases.

•    34% of respondents feel safe going to a store, 25% feel safe staying in a hotel and 21% feel safe taking a flight.

•    Net anxiety among respondents (percentage of respondents who agree/strongly agree they are more anxious than last week minus percentage who disagree/strongly disagree.