Reversing Trend, More Shoppers Cut Spending, Poll Shows

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That’s how many months a run of improving consumer optimism lasted, according to a new poll that shows an increasing share of people cutting back their spending because of the pandemic.

Fifty-six percent of respondents to an Aug. 5 survey by First Insight said they were reducing their spending below pre-pandemic levels, compared to 52% in July. It was the first of four polls taken since January showing an increase in the share of people being more cautious. First Insight, a business analytics company, has conducted polls periodically since February 2020. Targeted samples of more than 1,000 people around the country are part of each one. 

The latest survey showed consumers were worrying more about the safety of shopping in stores. Household spending increased in June, the most recent government data shows, but the First Insight survey is adding to evidence that consumers’ confidence has gotten shakier since then amid rising numbers of daily coronavirus cases.

“I believe the trends we’re seeing may very well lead to families hunkering down again and curtailing experiential spending, especially for domestic and international travel, and shifting this spend toward physical products, including back to school items,” Greg Petro, First Insight’s CEO, wrote in a report released Tuesday.

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