US consumers to spend more on at-home activities post-pandemic

28 June 2021 2 min. read
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US consumers expect to spend more on electronics and streaming entertainment and more time cooking at home, according to a recent study from L.E.K. Consulting. Pandemic-fueled patterns are also expected to continue in regard to “going out,” with consumers planning to spend less on restaurant dining, rideshares, movie theaters, and sporting events and concerts.

L.E.K., a global management consultancy, surveyed 1,000 Americans in April 2021.

"The good news is that spending in many consumer categories is on the rise," said Lauren DeVestern, managing director at L.E.K. "But the way consumers spend will change. They report that they will remain cautious about crowded spaces and be eager to continue some of the new ways of living they picked up during the pandemic."

Vaccination rates may be playing a part in Americans’ post-pandemic plans. Sixty-five percent of Americans have received at least one dose as of June 18, according to the CDC, but 10% of Americans plan to never get a shot and 11% remain unsure about getting it.

Post-pandemic, consumers expect spending to revert to pre-pandemic levels

Most Americans don’t plan to use their stimulus checks on discretionary purchases (only 8%), instead opting for saving it (43%), paying down debt (20%), or spending it on essentials such as groceries (20%).

Consumers expect their spending post-pandemic to revert to pre-pandemic levels. However, they will retain some of the changes in consumer behavior driven by the Covid-19 crisis, with continued higher spending on groceries, takeout, vitamins, streaming services, and electronics. Consumers will continue to spend less on dining out, movies, concerts, sporting events, and ridesharing and taxis.

In line with that emphasis on home-based consumption, 28% of Americans plan to cook at home more than they did pre-pandemic – identifying health, cost savings, and enjoyment as the top three reasons. However, a smaller 17% plan to cook at home less post-Covid than they did pre-Covid.

Consumers expect to continue cooking at home slightly more often
“Consumers have…discovered a wide range of new preferences – especially centered at home, where they enjoy cooking and entertainment. Both factors are combining to ensure that there is a 'new normal,' and that the post-pandemic recovery, while robust, is unlikely to resemble what went before," said Manny Picciola, managing director at L.E.K.

Business travel is expected to remain lower post-pandemic because many companies have realized the viability and cost savings of teleconferencing. Virtual alternatives are expected to replace about 25% of pre-pandemic business travel, according to survey respondents.

US consumers, however, plan to spend more on leisure travel (+6%) than they did pre-pandemic. However, 29% of Americans are more interested in driving than using planes or other modes, and 26% will seek out travel activities that allow for greater social distancing, such as camping and park visits.