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Survey: Majority of Americans are spending less money due to stay-at-home orders, social distancing

© iStock - chris-mueller
Bethany Blankley | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – With 30 million people filing for unemployment, stores closed and stay-at-home orders still in place in many states, it should come as no surprise that 77 percent of people who responded to a recent survey are spending less money.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. economy shrank by 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the worst decline since the fourth quarter of 2008 when the nation was headed into what became the “Great Recession.”

President Donald Trump held a roundtable discussion with business leaders from across the country Wednesday to discuss how to slowly reopen the economy.

According to WalletHub’s Coronavirus Shopping Survey, 58 million people out of 329 million, roughly 16 percent, are spending more while shut in.

“The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way the world shops, perhaps forever in some respects,” writes Adam McCann, financial writer at the consumer finance site. “One of the most surprising results of the survey was that 58 million Americans are actually spending more money while social distancing, despite being able to go out less, in large part because many people are participating in ‘comfort buying’– or shopping as a way to relieve stress and boredom.”

The nationally representative survey asked questions ranging from whether Americans’ spending has increased, to what types of non-essential items they are purchasing most, and whether they have concerns about deliveries of packages and food.

Among those surveyed, 77 percent said they were spending less money due to social distancing and 57 percent said they were not making “comfort buying” purchases to make them feel better during the shutdown.

Of the number of people shopping, 43 percent of them said they were spending money to relieve stress; 57 percent admitted they were worried about package safety of deliveries, and 60 percent said they were worried about food contamination.

A slight majority said they preferred comfort animals over comfort savings and comfort shopping, the survey found.

The online survey was nationally representative of more than 450 respondents. WalletHub normalized the data by age, gender and income to reflect U.S. demographics.

Last year, U.S. consumers racked up $77 billion in credit card debt, an all-time high, according to an analysis published by WalletHub. In its 2020 Credit Card Debt Study, the findings represented a “worrisome” trend nationwide.