A new CreditCards.com survey shows many people will spend less on entertainment, gym memberships and even haircuts post-coronavirus. Find out what other spending habits Americans plan to curtail.
The top areas in which respondents said they would cut back on included tickets for movies, sporting events, concerts and theater – almost half (45%) said they won’t be patronizing those businesses as much as before the pandemic.
Nearly as many people said that they’d curtail their bar and dining out visits (44% and 38%, respectively) – and millennials are more likely than older adults (41% versus 35%) to cut back at restaurants.
Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said social distancing mandates won’t be the only thing keeping crowds down at businesses moving forward – he noted that a significant number of Americans plans to stay away on their own accord.
“Perhaps that’s because they’re struggling financially, they learned to live without this activity during the quarantine or they worry it won’t be safe even after restrictions are lifted,” Rossman said.
Credit card debt poll: Key findings
Here are some other major results from our credit card debt poll:
- There will be belt-tightening in other areas, too: The poll also revealed that people plan to spend less on gym memberships (31%), child care (28%), haircuts and coloring (24%), housekeeping (24%) and charity donations (14%) after the pandemic.
- Expect spending cuts to be deep: Thirty percent of Americans who used to spend at the movies and on sports, concerts and theater tickets said they’ll be spending much less going forward and many said they’ll slash spending at bars (28%), dining out (21%) and gyms (20%).
- But some plan to spend more after the pandemic: Of all the people who spent in these categories pre-pandemic, some plan higher spending on child care (32%); charity donations (28%); housekeeping (26%); restaurants (19%); gym memberships (18%); hair services (17%); bars (16%); sports, concerts and theater tickets (14%); and movie tickets (12%).
- Pay it forward: Because American businesses are struggling due to closures, 73% of U.S. adults reported they have done – or plan to do – something nice for small businesses that are floundering.
- Tipping has increased: Of the people who said they wanted to help small businesses, 59% said they already have done something nice. This includes tipping service providers more generously than usual (37%), patronizing small businesses more frequently (34%), paying out-of-home service providers (such as hair stylists) even though they were unable to perform their duties for a time (9%) and paying in-home service providers (such as housekeepers) even though they were unable to perform their duties for a time (8%).
- Age and income affect tipping: Boomers are more likely to be tipping more than Gen Xers and millennials (43% versus 39% versus 33%), and those with yearly household incomes of $80,000-plus are more likely to be tipping more than those earning between $40,0000 and $80,000 and earners making less than $40,000 per year (54% versus 42% versus 26%).
- The kindness wave will swell: In addition to those who have already done something nice for a provider, 68% say they plan more generosity as business activities resume. Almost half said they would patronize small businesses more (49%), many answered that they’ll tip service providers more generously than usual (42%) and some said they will pay extra for services or back pay for unused services to compensate for lost business (11%).
The survey of 2,332 U.S. adults was conducted online between June 17-19, 2020. See survey methodology.
People feel a social responsibility toward small businesses
During this unprecedented time, people are re-evaluating their lifestyle and spending habits, said Maureen Kelley, a certified financial therapist practicing in Denver.
Motivation, Kelley said, is twofold – many people, regardless of age, want to reduce unnecessary exposure in public places for health precautions, and this period has been an opportunity to be more mindful of how and where they spend their money.
Referred to as the “new normal,” this way of life means spending more time at home, not at sporting events, concerts, restaurants and public places, she added.
But relationships with small business owners tend to be personal, according to Kelley.
“There is a sentiment of social responsibility and a desire to support the business owner whose doors have been closed for weeks,” she said.
Among Kelley’s clients is a 48-year-old technology executive who has been working from home. His paycheck has remained the same, so when the doors finally opened at his favorite neighborhood pub in Denver, he was more than willing to leave a 40% tip for the bartender and server.
“Knowing they have been unemployed for the past 10 weeks, the extra gratuity was my way to show appreciation and support. I love this place and the people. I want them to remain open,” the client said.
Health and well-being remain important to people
Lifestyle routines may have changed, but a desire to maintain health and well-being continues to be a priority in people’s live, Kelley said.
For instance, when our country went under “shelter-in-place” restrictions, we were affected by the closure of gyms, hairdressers, salons and restaurants – all of the small businesses that are part of our daily routines, Kelley noted.
One of Kelley’s baby boomer clients said she canceled her gym membership and bought a stationary bike for her home because she needed to maintain her strength and do cardio workouts.
She gave up the gym, but not her exercise.
And because she had no choice about going to her hair salon she took the plunge and let her hair go natural – meaning gray.
Kelley’s client said she is thrilled with the amount of money she’s saving every month and wonders why she didn’t make these lifestyle changes sooner.
People still want to help others
“As parts of the country venture into opening back up many Americans are holding back their spending during the ongoing public health and economic uncertainties,” said Thomas Faupl, a San Francisco-based marriage and family therapist who specializes in financial therapy and coaching.
People are hesitant to be in proximity to strangers or service providers due to concerns about contracting the coronavirus and hence aren’t spending, he said.
Those who have lost their jobs are focused on essentials such as putting food on the table, paying for the roof over their heads and covering their utility bills. And those who are worried about maintaining employment are tightening their belts and saving until they are more confident of their own ongoing future financial stability.
But despite the fact that many Americans are hunkering down on spending, people are displaying varying degrees of generosity in supporting local businesses and tipping more generously, which is positive news, Faupl said.
“More people are taking in the economic pain and hardships of others and are wanting to extend a helping hand,” Faupl added.
Additionally, only a small percentage of individuals (14%) plan to cut back on their charitable donations, despite the widespread economic effects of the pandemic.
“During this time, consumers have had to reflect on their values as it relates to spending and this is reflected in an intention to care for others who have been hurt economically,” said Dr. Mary Gresham, an Atlanta-based psychologist.
Kelly noted that research shows we derive the most happiness when we give or impact the lives of others, not just accumulate more for ourselves.
She added that while there has been significant financial stress and anxiety during this time, when we can control the small things in our lives and have a positive impact on someone else’s, it brings us happiness.
CreditCards.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,332 adults. The survey was conducted online from June 17-19, 2020.