Deloitte: Discretionary spending shows positive signs

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Intent to spend on several categories of discretionary items is improving in the U.S. 

According to the most recent Deloitte Global State of the Consumer Tracker, which surveys at least 1,000 consumers in 18 countries including the U.S., three in four U.S. respondents plan to spend the same or more on apparel and restaurants in the coming weeks.

With the vaccine rollout and latest stimulus, Deloitte says further signs of easing in the U.S. can be expected. Signs of optimism are also emerging for travel, with vaccinated respondents indicating higher intent to travel and stay in hotels over the next three months. In the U.S., vaccinated consumers surveyed are 35% more likely to plan a flight than those who aren’t vaccinated.

Although leisure travel booking intent continues to improve across all categories, one in three global consumers surveyed say they are waiting to take a vacation until after the pandemic.

The survey also examined consumer attitudes toward digital and omnichannel commerce. Roughly 50% of global consumers surveyed indicate they will shop online more in 2021 compared to 2019 (about 15% plan to do this less). 

In April 2020, U.S. respondents ranked safety as the number one reason to use “buy online pickup in store” (BOPIS). However, in the latest survey, safety dropped to fourth, replaced as the top reason for using BOPIS by “cheaper and faster than delivery.” According to Deloitte, this suggests that a permanent trend is taking hold. 

Looking at consumer eating habits, the survey reveals that 55% of global respondents plan to continue cooking more at home than pre-pandemic (only 5% say less), while 38% of respondents plan on ordering more take-out or delivery than pre-COVID (25% say they will do it less), rather than eat in-person at a restaurant (15% plan to do this more than pre-pandemic, but about 40% of respondents plan to eat at restaurants less frequently).

“As we begin recovery from this dual-fronted crisis, certain consumer behaviors have permanently changed,” said Stephen Rogers, executive director, Deloitte Insights Consumer Industry Center, Deloitte LLP. “As consumers learn more and experience more, we’ll gradually get back to traveling, or mingling among large groups, but it likely won’t be at the pre-pandemic levels. Other shifts are more systemic such as cooking from home and convenience through online commerce. They are likely here to stay.”