Coronavirus Shopping Survey: 58 Million Americans Are Spending More Money While Social Distancing

To regain a sense of control during the pandemic, some Americans have resorted to shopping.

In spite of the inability to move around too frequently to purchase items, online shopping platforms have allowed people to continue spending at the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Roughly 58 million Americans have spent more money while social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the estimate of WalletHub based on their survey published last April 29.

In a national survey composed of 450 American respondents, WalletHub asked questions regarding their shopping behaviour during the pandemic in order to gain insights. Let’s look at the main findings.

Comfort buying


Now that we are experiencing a global pandemic, the lockdowns are understandably overwhelming a lot of us. With this, it is easy to feel sad or to feel like things are getting out of hand.

In line with this, WalletHub found that a significant chunk (43%) of the respondents participate in ‘comfort buying’ in order to ease their stress and anxiety while being isolated from everyone.

A study from the University of Michigan backs up the relieving effect of shopping to consumers. According to Scott Rick, one of the researchers, shopping allows people to actively choose and restore some sense of control. Moreover, they also discovered that it can help ease the feeling of sadness.

Entertainment is the most popular nonessential item category at 29%, followed by alcohol at 23%. Clothing (15%) and beauty products (13%) are also popular. The popularity of these products further backs up the yearning of the people for positive emotions and control over their lives.

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Not all about comfort

While there is a surge in comfort buying, the purchase of essential products during this pandemic still has taken a faster growth curve in comparison to that of nonessential goods.


The visualisation above from Visual Capitalist summarises the growth of e-commerce products during this pandemic using the previous year as the baseline.

As we can see, important products like gloves (670%), cough medicine (535%), packaged foods (377%) and dishwashing supplies (275%) are among the fastest-growing categories. In contrast, it can be observed that the sales of apparel and other nonessential products actually experienced declines in growth.

Safety first

While shopping may be helping others to cope with stress, package safety is also a huge source of anxiety among Americans.

According to the WalletHub study, 57% of the respondents are not that certain about the safety of receiving packages amid the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, 60% are also concerned about the safety of the food being delivered in their doorsteps.

With this, we should always remember to disinfect the products we get delivered. We should also ensure that we disinfect ourselves by washing our hands with soap and water before moving around our homes.

May the reason for your shopping be ‘comfort buying’ or replenishing the stock of your essentials, safety should remain as the chief priority during this global crisis.

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