U.S. consumers' focus shifts from COVID-19 to personal finances

4 weeks ago 21
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Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Americans' worries about COVID-19 have dropped since the start of the pandemic in March as more report that their personal finances are are poor in recent months.

The survey by London-based customer data science firm dunnhumby said 24% of Americans were worried about the coronavirus in September, down from 31% in March. That figure has been on a downward trajectory since then except for a spike to 30% in July.

Worldwide, 22% of people were concerned with the virus in September, down from a high of 34% in March.

Americans' concerns appear to have shift instead to their personal finances. In September, 49% said their personal finances are either "not good" or "poor," up from 41% in July and a low of 36% in April.

That concern has translated into a focus on food prices and shopping where regular prices are low. Fifty-eight percent said they shop where regular prices are low, while 22% said they pay more for quality.

"Since the pandemic first hit, we have been analyzing and studying consumer reactions to the virus, how it impacted their shopping behavior, and how they in turn reacted to retailers' actions to combat the virus," said Jose Gomes, president of North America for dunnhumby.

"Seven months after shutdowns, we are now seeing a major pivot with consumer focus turning away from the virus itself to now being more concerned with increasing food prices while the economy and their personal finances are deteriorating.

"Retailers need to take note that most shoppers right now are on the hunt for more value by shopping at stores with regularly low prices, while also seeking discounts and promotions."

The U.S. Commerce Department issued a quarterly report Thursday showing the economy expanded by 33% between July and October after a 31% drop in the prior quarter. The second-quarter dip shattered the previous record for decline over a three-month quarterly period.

"The increase in real GDP reflected increases in personal consumption expenditures, private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by decreases in federal government spending," the department said in a statement.

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