U.S. Consumers Are Optimistic About The Economy, But Their Behavior Is Shifting Anyway

Consumer sentiment is evolving rapidly as the pandemic and its fallout progresses. Data from McKinsey & Company found that while U.S. consumers are relatively optimistic about the economy, the data shows significant shifts in their thoughts on their income, spending and purchasing behavior.

McKinsey & Company’s latest consumer sentiment survey finds that Americans’ relative optimism is holding, with 41 percent expecting a rebounding economy in the next two to three months. This is similar to what McKinsey sees among Chinese consumers but well ahead of those in Europe, with higher-income consumers—those making over $100,000 per year—being the most optimistic.

Despite this optimism, McKinsey has identified several signs of concern—44 percent of those surveyed say they will cut their spending over the next two weeks and 43 percent are delaying purchases due to uncertainty in the economic outlook. The intention to spend less is seen most dramatically among discretionary purchases, such as travel, out-of-home entertainment, apparel and footwear, and home furnishings. Where consumers will likely spend more—groceries, home-based entertainment and household supplies—will largely be online.

Consumer behavior is shifting as well, with upticks in first-timers and increased participation noted in the entertainment streaming, esports, restaurant and grocery delivery, online education and online fitness categories.

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