Even in the face of economic pressures, consumers are leaning into experiences and prioritizing essential goods now more than ever.
A new Mastercard study on consumer spending preferences found that despite heightened logistical challenges and price pressures, global consumer flight bookings between the months of May and August of this year were 15% above 2019 levels.
Spending at restaurants rose 25% this year compared to the same time in 2021, while grocery spending—primarily fueled by food inflation—was up 14%.
The study also found that certain habits and preferences that consumers developed during the pandemic have seemingly stuck. For example, online grocery spending is 70% higher than before the pandemic began.
And with work from home still being very much a preference and necessity to many, there are no longer any designated days when consumers spend more. For example, “date night” is now any night of the week instead of a Friday or weekend night. Similarly, a movie night at the theater is now a weekday activity, specifically Thursdays and, to a lesser extent, Mondays too.
This shift has had significant staffing and supply chain implications for retailers, restaurants and other businesses. Case in point: Roughly 5% of total weekend spending at department stores globally has shifted into the weekday, representing approximately $22.3 billion of global department store sales.
“The shifts in spending preferences come as consumers settle in to a new rhythm,” said Bricklin Dwyer, Mastercard chief economist and head of the Mastercard Economics Institute. “Despite contending with rising prices, interest rates and growing economic uncertainty, consumers continue to evaluate their spending habits based on what works best for their lives.”