Pandemic Habits - 'Revenge spending' is on the way

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 24 September 2021
Credit: Heidi Fin via unsplash

Consumers will embark on what has been coined as "revenge spending" sprees after COVID lockdowns and restrictions are lifted, according to a survey by retail out-of-home media group Shopper. 

Almost half (47%) are planning a significant purchase when restrictions ease, with 59% preferring to buy big-ticket items in store compared with 19% who would go online.

Nearly a third indicated they would spend between $500-$2000.

Roy Morgan consumer confidence data supports the findings with 35% of Australians saying now is a good time to buy major household items.

Karissa Fletcher, Shopper’s head of marketing: “Economists and retailers locally are anticipating the ‘revenge spending’ trend playing out in Australia off the back of extended lockdowns and an aggressive vaccination rollout program.

"Shopper undertook this study to better understand the effect of lockdowns on consumer behaviour and to determine if a frenzy of spending is in fact likely to occur once restrictions ease later this year.

“The findings identified a clear intent in shoppers to splurge once restrictions lift. Consumers are ready to rebound, with a driving desire to restore control and normalcy and make up for lost time.

"This provides a unique moment for brands to lean in and respond with products and services that will meet this intention.”

The research, Urge to Splurge Post-Pandemic Revenge Spending Study, was conducted in August as an online quantitative survey of 2,458 Australians nationally:

  • 47% of shoppers are planning on making a major purchase;
  • 40% of Australians are looking forward to spending on dining-out and entertainment;
  • 19% will book a holiday; and
  • 2 in 3 consumers feel satisfied after making a big purchase.

Australian households are reported to have squirrelled away more than $140 billion during the COVID pandemic, with 26% of Australians saying their families are better off financially than this time last year.

“Our research confirms that large destination shopping centres have experienced steep declines of customers in store due to the pandemic," says Fletcher.

"However, local shopping centres have increased in popularity as people are staying closer to home and relying
on local retailers for essential needs and services.”

Shoppers are choosing to spend 25% more time in their local shopping centres and 75% are visiting more regularly, according to Shopper’s research.

“It is evident that physical stores are necessary for retailers to drive high conversion rates and increase average purchase values” says Fletcher.

“With 36% of Australians now spending 80% or more of their discretionary income within 5km of their home, Shopper’s retail out-of-home advertising in local shopping centres put brands front and centre of life and buying decisions.

"This is a potent opportunity in the lead up to restrictions ending to encourage shoppers to spend their post-pandemic income closer to home, where they feel comfortable.” 

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