What you need to know

With the US economy continuing its rapid growth, significant numbers of consumers have seen their financial situations improve over the past year amid declining unemployment rates and the continuation of stimulus payments and loan forbearance programs. For others, particularly low-income households, COVID-19 has only exacerbated their financial hardships – making their road to financial recovery all the more difficult in the future.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer finances within the past year.

  • Sentiments toward consumers’ financial future.

  • Change in consumer spending habits.


For the purposes of this Report, the following categories of consumer finances are explored:

  • Consumers’ outlook on their future financial situation

  • Consumers’ definition of financial success

  • Their current and future spending behaviors

COVID-19: US context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. It was declared a global health pandemic and national emergency in early March 2020. Across the US, various stay-at-home orders were put in place in Spring 2020, and non-essential businesses and school districts closed or shifted to remote operations. The remainder of 2020 saw rolling orders, as states and local governments relaxed and reinforced guidelines according to the spread of the virus in each region.

Vaccine rollout began in December 2020. Based on current estimates of vaccine production and distribution, the US could reach herd immunity, with 70-85% of the population vaccinated, by late summer to early fall 2021. Mintel anticipates business operations in the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021 as the vaccine is widely administered.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on CBO estimates released on February 1, 2021. The CBO’s previous forecast for US GDP to fall by 5.8% in 2020 was revised after a stronger second half of the year and the updated estimate indicates negative 3.5% GDP for the year. The CBO forecast for GDP to grow by 4.6% in 2021 and unemployment to continue to fall to average 5.7% for the year do not take into consideration the impact of the $1.9 trillion economic relief package.

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