skip to Main Content
MSJ NEWS see latest news

2020 Winners and Losers in Consumer Sales, From Books to Video Games

  • Analysis of credit card spending data tracks consumer spending habits during 2020, including major shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Stores suffer major setbacks, with online marketplaces continuing to dominate
  • Grocers see retreat in sales after spring boost, while delivery and convenience win out in the food service industry

The persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic through 2020 created enduring shifts in consumer spending, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis of credit card data.

The analysis found that spending on home improvements and landscaping remained above 2019 levels throughout the year as business restrictions and lockdowns forced millions of people to spend more time indoors. While sales of home furnishings plummeted in the early months of the pandemic, they quickly recovered to post year-over-year gains.

Grocery sales have also been above 2019 levels for most of the year, including a spring surge occasioned by panic buying in the early months of the pandemic. Supermarkets and specialty grocers have recently seen a drop in sales as online grocers and meal kits remain popular.

While restaurants have often been seen as one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, overall restaurant sales posted annual growth during the summer and were on par with 2019 levels at the end of the year. However, revenues were concentrated in delivery aggregates and quick service eateries, with persistent annual losses in fast casual, casual, and fine dining venues.

Brick-and-mortar stores remained below 2019 revenues, with department stores and convenience stores seeing the worst losses. Online marketplaces continued to show gains, although they were down considerably from the start of the pandemic when sales nearly doubled.

Other persistent sales declines were seen in events and attractions as well as travel and transportation. Spending was also down on footwear, professional clothing, spas and salons, and books, while it increased for active and athleisure wear, video games, streaming video and music, and jewelry.

Similar trends were seen in the United Kingdom, with a BBC analysis seeing more spending on groceries, independent food and drink shops, and florists, with less spending on clothing and fuel. J.P. Morgan determined that household cleaners and soap, vitamins and supplements, hair color, and coffee were among the most popular purchases in 2020, while spending dropped considerably for cosmetics and sunscreen.

Spread the Word

More To Explore

Expert Summaries

Know Your Competitors

By Denis Jakuc 

There are tons of benefits to knowing who your competitors are—what they’re offering, their strengths and weaknesses. That knowledge can help you make your products and services stand out,

Latest News

Join with Free InnovatorsLINK Account

Start accessing all the free member benefits and valuable content on the InnovatorsLINK platform. Create a BizLINK listing to boost brand exposure, receive the weekly Main Street Journal newsletter, engage in forums, get full access to free content, and more.