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Consumers Are Eager to Spend as COVID-19 Restrictions Lift

New research from global payments provider Blackhawk Network examines where and how Americans plan to spend as restrictions lift

Published on April 23, 2021

Consumers are eager to shop, eat out and travel after a year of COVID-19 restrictions. With an estimated $1.7 trillion in excess savings during the pandemic1, and with the expanded vaccine rollout and the anticipation of a return to some normalcy, Americans are ready to make up for lost time. According to new research2 from global payments company Blackhawk Network, traveling, getting together with friends and family, and eating out top the list of activities consumers are most excited to celebrate together, and with those occasions, 76% of surveyed Americans anticipate giving more gifts.

“We’ve all missed so many celebrations and milestones this past year, so it makes sense that we’re seeing so much pent-up consumer demand aimed towards gifting,” said Theresa McEndree, global head of marketing, Blackhawk Network. “Americans are excited to get back to special events, to reunite with their family and friends, and enjoy the connections that gift cards and gifting can provide.”

The “Return of Consumer Spending” study asked U.S. consumers where and how they plan to spend after restrictions relax further or lift. Top findings and trends include:

  • More to spend and give. The majority of survey respondents have big gifting plans, with 76% reporting they anticipate giving more gifts when pandemic restrictions lift. Respondents also report they plan to spend more on gifts, with 79% likely to increase spending on gifts.
  • Birthday and holiday spending post-COVID. Surveyed consumers are most excited to celebrate birthdays (73%) and holidays (71%) together. Along with those celebrations, 70% of consumers plan to spend $100 or more on birthdays and 67% plan to spend as much or more on holidays.
  • Men and Gen Xers are the big spending gifters. Seventy-six percent of surveyed men and 77% of surveyed Gen Xers plan to spend $250–$500+ on gifts across all occasions, with birthdays and holidays being the most prevalent.
  • Return to services and experiences where pandemic access has been limited. When asked to rank the activities they are most excited to get back to doing, traveling, getting together with friends and family, eating out at a restaurant or bar and shopping for fun all topped the list. Playing or watching sports, live music and entertainment, going to the gym and visiting a spa or salon were also in the top 10 activities.

Blackhawk Network is one of the top issuers of gift and prepaid cards with more than $25 billion distributed annually across the globe.

Business Editor