Consumer Recovery Report: Consumers confront financial uncertainty

Consumer Recovery Report: Consumers confront financial uncertainty
May 25, 2021

In the latest version of our COVID-19 Monitor Survey, U.S. consumers report how the pandemic has impacted their personal finances and financial behaviors.

Editor’s Note (5/25/2021): This article includes findings from ICF’s eleventh wave of data collection that was fielded April 15 – 22. This wave collected 1,000 completes using a census-balanced, national non-probability sample. The new information, shared below, examines the impact of COVID-19 on the American public as well as their attitudes toward slowing the spread of COVID-19 and their current and anticipated future consumer behaviors. Learn more about the ICF COVID-19 Monitor Survey of U.S. Adults.

Among a number of updates contained in the latest refresh of our COVID-19 Monitor Survey was the addition of a series of questions regarding the financial well-being and personal finance choices and behaviors of U.S. consumers before and during the pandemic—as well as some of the behaviors they anticipate engaging in once the pandemic is over. Our survey reveals a consumer base that has experienced big changes to their financial statuses with large numbers of consumers considering how the pandemic may have changed their financial goals or futures.

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Consumers reported declining incomes and feel less secure in their financial futures.

Consumers have been hard-hit by COVID-19. Despite an improving job market, 76.4% of respondents reported that their household income has stayed about the same or decreased since 2019. At the same time, over one third of consumers report that they feel less secure in their financial futures since the onset of the pandemic.

They’ve rethought their financial goals but feel less confident in their ability to manage their personal finances.

Despite over 43% of consumers reassessing their financial goals and plans since the onset of the pandemic, the disruption of the last year has caused more consumers to lose confidence in their ability to manage their personal finances. This presents an opportunity to financial services providers to help consumers work through the continued financial disruption that reopening and economic recovery is likely to cause.

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Consumer payment methods have changed dramatically

Along with dramatic changes to their shopping behaviors, consumers are choosing to pay for their daily expenditures differently. Increasing use of contactless payment methods and decreasing use of cash are not surprising, given the pandemic, but it is notable that there have been large declines in travel and store-branded card use in favor of cash-back cards. With travel activity likely to pick up, it will be interesting to see if consumers resume their use of travel rewards cards now that they are more likely to redeem these rewards.

Watch this space

How will American consumers’ feelings and behaviors change as the summer begins and the national vaccination campaign winds down? We will report key findings from our data collection efforts over the coming months and share this information.

Meet the authors
  1. John Boyle, Senior Advisor, Survey Research

    John is a research expert with more than 30 years of experience in the design, execution, analysis, and reporting of large-scale health surveys. View bio

  2. James “Jamie” Dayton, Senior Vice President, Survey Research

    Jamie is a survey research expert with over 35 years of experience in strategy and implementation in the health, environment, and transportation industries. View bio

  3. Rachel Kinder
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