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May 2020

How COVID-19 is Impacting Consumer Spending

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, NPD is uniquely positioned to help you understand and react to changes as they happen. As the leading provider of sales tracking data covering stores and e-commerce, we report on what is actually occurring in the marketplace.

We will be updating this page frequently with data, expert analysis and other resources to help you navigate this challenging time.

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U.S. Consumption Trends by Week

General Merchandise: Dollar Change Versus Year Ago

Compared to last year, U.S. general merchandise dollar sales declined 3% in the week ending August 1st.

Source: The NPD Group/Point-of-Sale Early Indicator Report, NPD Universe, WE Aug 01, 2020
Industries Included: Apparel, Footwear, Auto Aftermarket, Watches, Housewares, Small Domestic Appliances, Toys, Video, Sports Accessories, Consumer Technology, Office Supplies, Prestige Beauty, Juvenile Products

Foodservice: Transaction Change Versus Year Ago

U.S. restaurant chain transactions declined by 11% in the week ending July 26 compared to year ago.

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Data Source: The NPD Group/CREST® Performance Alerts and ReCount®

Retail Sales Declined

As COVID-19 case counts continue to climb across the country, retail sales are slowing. Once again, we see dollars remained close to last year’s levels, while units had steeper declines. This stems from a combination of selling fewer promotional items and continued growth in sales of higher-ticket items. We will continue to watch case count growth as well as the impact on several industries as back-to-school gets a new curriculum.

Shopping Activity Changes

Per-Capita Receipt Index (By Purchase Method)

Store Online Total Retail

In the week ending August 1st, total retail purchasing traffic (number of online and in-store transactions) remained flat versus the prior week.

Source: The NPD Group/Checkout, WE Aug 01, 2020

Industry Perspective

“Right now, retail is reflecting the consumer’s need for normalcy in a sea of change. Purchases are becoming less about making our extended time at home more pleasant, and more about finding ways to enjoy ‘getting out’ and once again expressing yourself as an individual in public.”

Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Advisor, Retail

“The future is still in flux, but even beyond recovery, we can expect consumers will spend more time at home than before the COVID-19 crisis. It’s important to adjust our strategies to address the new ‘normal’ of consumer needs, and think about how we can fit into and ease the adjustment to their modified lifestyles.”

Joe Derochowski, Vice President, Industry Advisor, Home

“As working from home becomes more commonplace, this will reduce the consumption of certain supplies and also has implications for the commercial B2B as fewer supplies will be consumed in the workplace. At the same time, however, as we see from the growth in coloring and art, the current environment has engaged office supplies consumers in new ways. This behavior will not be unlearned, and the balance between technology and the traditional will be key.”

Leen Nsouli, Executive Director, Industry Analyst, Office Supplies

“Long before COVID consumers were already favoring quick service restaurants and off-premises dining, and this trend has accelerated during the pandemic and will most likely be a behavior that will stick. For full service restaurants it will mean more flexible operations, delivering on the on-premises experience and optimizing off-premises services. I see this as a sea-change for the U.S. restaurant industry.”

David Portalatin, Vice President, Industry Advisor, Food

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