How Much Household Spending Has Dropped During the Pandemic

Household Spending

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Household Spending
Ezra Shaw/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

Pulling Back

According to the Commerce Department, consumer spending plummeted 13.6% in April, the steepest drop on record. Although it will be a while until there is a detailed breakdown of how households have tightened their purse strings across the nation, a survey by TD Ameritrade of more than 1,000 Americans offers some insight into what we're just not buying anymore during the pandemic.

Costco Authorized Dealers

Major Purchases

Estimated average savings: $5,693
Whether Americans were eyeing a new car, a major home improvement project, or other big buys before the pandemic, they probably aren't now. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they'd experienced some savings or significant savings by putting off these kinds of budget busters.

Related: 15 Things You Really Don't Need to Buy During a Recession

tropical beach

Vacations and Trips

Estimated average savings: $1,411
Travel has been one of the most visible casualties of COVID-19. Americans are refraining from all but the most essential travel, and spending with airlines and hotels has dwindled to almost nothing. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said they've seen some or significant savings from staying home instead of traveling during the pandemic.

Related: 1 in 4 Avid Cruise Goers: 'I'll Never Go on a Cruise Again'

daycare or preschool


Estimated average savings: $366
Closed daycares and quarantined babysitters have meant far fewer childcare options for parents over the past couple of months. The silver lining: 62% of respondents said they've experienced some or significant savings on childcare as a result.

TVs at Costco
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Other Purchases

Estimated average savings: $295
While it makes sense that Americans have been spending less on travel, meals out, childcare, and other hard-hit industries, they've pulled back across the board. Forty-six percent of respondents said they'd also made spending cuts in categories not listed that amounted to some or significant savings. Fortunately, 63% also said they would be starting a more-substantial emergency savings fund.


Dining Out

Estimated average savings: $245
As the pandemic shut down dining rooms across the country, spending at restaurants plummeted. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed said they've seen some or significant savings because they haven't been going out to eat, the most for any category. In a bad sign for the restaurant industry, 71% also say they're likely to continue cooking more at home when the pandemic is over. The silver lining? Sixty-seven percent say they will tip more frequently or generously.

Related: How Drive-In Restaurants Are Catering to Customers Amid the Pandemic

clothing store
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Clothing and Fashion

Estimated average savings: $223
Clothing retailers' woes have been well documented, but store closures and stay-at-home orders helped push spending in this category off a cliff. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they'd seen some or significant savings because they've been spending less on apparel and similar goods.

Empty Stadium

Sporting and Entertainment Events

Estimated average savings: $207
Large gatherings have been canceled or postponed across the country, including favorite sporting events like March Madness and iconic music festivals like Bonnaroo. That has translated into some or significant savings for 64% of those surveyed. Movie theaters may have particular reason to be nervous, as 65% of respondents said they're more likely to skip the big screen and watch movies at home, even after the pandemic.

Related: 10 Businesses Americans Will Avoid Even After They Reopen

Reasons Not to Do a Destination Wedding


Estimated average savings: $199
Spring is a prime wedding season, but the pandemic has meant many brides and grooms have had to postpone or shrink their nuptials. While devastating for the happy couples, 47% of survey respondents said they have saved on expenses related to attending a wedding, like gifts.

Los Angeles Freeway


Estimated average savings: $191
Working from home has plenty of pros and cons, but one definite pro: Not having to spend big on gas or public transportation. For 55% of those surveyed, less commuting meant some or significant savings. Thirty-nine percent said they would like to work from home more after the pandemic.

Related: Our Team Has Worked From Home for Years: Here's How We Do It

hair salon

Beauty, Hair, and Spa Treatments

Estimated average savings: $129
Hair cuts, facials, massages — all of them help us feel like our best selves, but all have been on hold while we've been stuck at home. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they've seen some or significant savings from fewer trips to the salon and spa. Interestingly, 42% say they'll try to tackle more of their own grooming at home, even after the pandemic.

Related: How to Cut Long Hair When You Can't Get to the Stylist

Day Two
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Going Out for Drinks

Estimated average savings: $122
While we may well have been spending more on alcohol to drink at home, shuttered bars and clubs have meant a slimmer social life but a fatter wallet. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed reported some or significant savings in this category.

Tax Day Freebies

Ordering Coffee

Estimated average savings: $71
That age-old financial advice is true: Those daily stops at the coffee shop really do add up. Java junkies have been relying on their own coffee makers during the pandemic, with 53% of respondents reporting some or significant savings.