First look at consumer spending: COVID-19 impact

What has the outbreak done to credit card and current account use in the US?
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SVP Financial Service Group, Profiles Division

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The COVID-19 outbreak has unleashed a world of uncertainty about health, social institutions, and the economy. Consumer spending changed almost instantly – stocking up on food and household goods, on the one hand, but at the same time cutting back on travel and entertainment. Many consumers will likely change their lending behaviour, too – some relying more on credit card debt to make ends meet with limited income, others potentially skipping loan payments.

Kantar's behavioural payments data – which tracks actual consumer credit card and checking account spending and use on a continuous basis – offers a first look at the disruptions in consumer spending as a result of COVID-19. Credit card spending is down, although some categories have increased sharply.

  • Travel spending is down 17% since the start of the outbreak in late January – and within travel, airline spending is down fully 25%.
  • Grocery and warehouse club store spending is up substantially since January. Grocery store spending has increased by about 34%, although the number of grocery visits is up only slightly, indicative of unusually high-transaction-size stockpiling activity.
  • On a year-over-year basis, overall credit card spending is down about 12% for the second week of March.

We’re tracking consumer payments and lending trends throughout the next few months, and our analysts will be happy to speak with your team. Our behavioural tracking data and weekly reporting provides a unique window into:

  • Consumer spending: will it continue to decline, or shift heavily from offline to online purchases?
  • Purchases across retail categories: where is COVID-19 driving more purchases, and which categories are losing spending?
  • Debit vs. credit preferences: are consumers shifting from credit to debit cards to avoid debt – or are they shifting more to credit card to preserve cash?
  • Impact on card products: how is spending and revolving behaviour changing by different types of credit card products – rewards, cobrand, non-rewards?

For an initial look, or to learn more about subscribing to our weekly reporting, fill out the form below.

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COVID-19 Barometer

The leading syndicated study on how COVID-19 is influencing consumer behaviour, attitudes and expectations, covering over 60 markets.
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