43% of Americans turn to ‘comfort buying’ in pandemic – Study

Empty shelves at a Target store on March 13, 2020, in Cypress, Calif. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

In an effort to quell stress during the coronavirus outbreak, an estimated 58 million Americans have been spending more money than usual, a figure that still represents a minority of the 329 million U.S. population, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The survey from the personal finance website Wallethub also showed 43 percent of Americans were “comfort buying,” or spending more money on items generally considered unnecessary, such as entertainment and booze.

Wallethub collected the answers of around 450 people and structured the data by age, gender, and income to approximately reflect national demographics.

Overall, a majority of Americans have been spending less or the same during the pandemic.

The continuing economic fallout of the crisis shows 43 per cent of U.S. adults reported losing their job or earning less money, or having someone in their household who had; and 23 per cent have funds that would last them just around three months, according to a survey released last week by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

Of those spending more, the Wallethub survey reported that the most popular items bought were related to entertainment, at 29 per cent.

The next most purchased items were alcohol (23 per cent), clothing (15 percent), beauty products (13 per cent), electronics (12 per cent), toys (5 percent), and fitness equipment (3 percent).

The most common price range for shopping during quarantine was 51 to 150 dollars.

Close to 60 per cent of the survey’s respondents said they were concerned about the safety of the packages being delivered, closely mimicking the number of people who said they were worried about the safety of food they had delivered to their homes.

Wallethub did not state the most popular platforms for comfort buying.

The pandemic and associated financial strains on millions in the country have prompted 26.5 million people to file unemployment claims since mid-March, a figure that continues to grow.

Pew data that collected responses from 4,917 U.S. adults in April showed that of the millions of people who received stimulus checks – more than 80 million, according to the U.S. Treasury – around 54 percent of recipients would use the money to pay bills and make essential purchases they or their family needed, 21 percent would save it, and 14 per cent would make debt payments.


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