Home Consumer How The Pandemic Changed Our Shopping And Spending Habits (Video)

How The Pandemic Changed Our Shopping And Spending Habits (Video)


The pandemic has permanently changed spending and shopping habits for six in 10 Americans, according to new research.

In a survey of 2,000 general population Americans, 60% of people report that 2020 has forever affected their budget and how money is being spent.

[Inforgraphic at the end of this article]

Commissioned by Slickdeals and conducted by OnePoll, the study found that while they spent much less money overall on things like movies (49%), luxury goods (46%), video games (42%), clothes (42%) and entertainment (41%), more money was spent on essential goods and subtleties.

In 2020, Americans increased their spending on groceries (41%), self-care products (23%) and takeout (22%). Nearly half (49%) said they were panic-buying essential goods at the beginning of the pandemic.

When the pandemic began, the most panic-bought items included toilet paper (50%), cleaning supplies (42%), hand sanitizer and water (41%) and paper towels (40%).

One year later, 14% of people are still panic-buying essential items like toilet paper (35%), water (31%), cleaning supplies (30%), hand sanitizer (29%) and paper towels (28%) more than they did this time last year.

More than half (58%) of people said they reallocated their “going out” budget for staying in, with 41% of people spending more money on nesting — comfortably redecorating their home.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of these nesters feel more pride in their home since they began investing more money and time into it. Seventy-six percent of these proud nesters believe they’ll spend more time post-pandemic at home because they’ve fallen in love with their homes.

More than a third (37%) describe their redecorated homes as sanctuaries for themselves and their families. A quarter even said their homes felt cozier and more put-together than before.

“Our internal data supports what consumers are reporting in this survey when it comes to their spending over the course of the pandemic year,” said Ryan Tronier, senior personal finance editor for Slickdeals. “We’ve found search volume continues to remain high in the categories of home improvement and home office; and while there’s been a decline since the height of pandemic for searches related to essential items, terms like toilet paper continue to be popular with our users.”

Yet, not all spending changes were a choice or just a simple reallocation of budget. Two out of five Americans said they had a “significant” financial setback or loss in 2020. For 75% of them, their money problems made them reevaluate their long-term budgets.

In addition to budget cuts, 43% of people had to deal with unexpected expenses within the past year, including new bills (31%), new savings costs (22%), clothes (22%) and groceries (19%). Also frequently mentioned were funerals, medicine and health expenses.

More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents said they received a stimulus check within the past year. For most, their stimulus money was spent on the necessities — bills (58%), groceries (34%) and savings (29%).

Yet over a quarter of respondents (29%) felt guilty for buying something unnecessary with their stimulus money. Respondents felt guilty for buying items like designer bags and shoes, new appliances, weekend getaways, skincare products and even home decor.

American spending habits also point towards hunting for the perfect deal. Over half (54%) would be willing to spend more than their budget would allow if the item they want is on sale. Nearly as many (52%) are willing to buy things in bulk if they’re on sale.

All the same, eight in 10 Americans are more likely to buy essential items on sale than non-essential items and luxuries.

When the paycheck comes in, 69% of Americans will first tackle their bills. After that, however, they will go shopping for groceries (54%), spend money on transportation expenses (31%), clothes (25%), medications (21%) and their pets (21%).

“The study showed that the past year has significantly impacted how a majority of Americans spend their money,” said Tronier. “However, while budget priorities have changed, our Slickdeals community of savvy shoppers has consistently helped one another discover the best products at the best prices, from toilet paper to technology.”


  1. Movies                                            49%
  2. Luxury goods                                  46%
  3. Video games                                   42%
  4. Clothes                                            42%
  5. Entertainment                                 41%


  1. Groceries                                        41%
  2. Self-care products                          23%
  3. Bills                                                 22%
  4. Takeout/Restaurant Dining            22%
  5. Healthcare                                      20%