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Consumer spending amid the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted from stocking up on essential home goods to increasingly buying items for entertainment like books, electronics, toys and beauty products, new data suggests.
E-commerce spending has surged more than 30 percent in the U.S. from early March through mid-April compared with the same time last year, according to market research firm Rakuten Intelligence.
Millions of Americans are filing for unemployment because of widespread layoffs and furloughs because businesses remain closed due because of the pandemic, but those who are lucky enough to remian employed and can afford to spend money are using internet retailers.
“As consumers get more comfortable with sheltering in place, we have seen purchase behavior evolve up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, from the most basic — like stockpiling groceries and cleaning products, and purchasing major appliances like freezers, to what psychologists call ‘being’ needs — like games, books, home fitness and beauty products, all of which are trending upward most recently," Jaimee Minney, a Rakuten Intelligence spokesperson, said in an email.
As consumers get more comfortable with sheltering in place, we have seen purchase behavior evolve up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
The majority of consumer spending online was on household sundries like cleaning supplies and groceries, but Americans are also prioritizing buying things to pass the time through quarantine, according to the study.
To be sure, a separate survey of 700 consumers from marketing firm Influence Central found that 72 percent of consumers plan to splurge even more on online shopping with 71 percent saying they’ll invest more in health and beauty products; 44 percent planning to buy more clothes and 24 percent buying more electronics.
New York native Amanda Hernandez, 29, who works in accounting, decided to invest in her health and wellness at home. She splurged $1,100 on a treadmill to keep her active while in quarantine.
"It was worth it because I'll always use it and I'm too paranoid to go for outdoor runs anymore," Hernandez said of her new treadmill.
Book purchases grew 777 percent in the first half of April, compared to the first half of March before stay-at-home orders were mandated, and 295 percent year-over-year, according to Rakuten data.
Toys and games, which was the second-highest growing category, increased by 182 percent since the beginning of March and 119 percent year-over-year.
Spending on outdoor items, sporting goods and fitness equipment increased 131 percent during the six weeks of lockdowns and 122 percent year-over-year.
Purchases for home improvement items increased 71 percent since last month and beauty and health products have surged 38 percent, with hair and nail salons shuttered, according to Rakuten data.