Program Overview

What’s Trending in Consumer Spending

Data Insights on Shifting North American Buying Behavior During Covid and Beyond

American consumer buying behavior has undergone dramatic changes during the past 18 months as shoppers have shifted dollars to new categories of spending, new retail channels and new lifestyle priorities and preferences. Spending patterns and trends have fluctuated and evolved throughout the Covid pandemic.


A large, but far-from-universal level of vaccinations, the relaxation of government-mandated restrictions on public gatherings, a new surge in Covid cases due to the Delta variant, the fading of government stimulus, and global supply chain disruptions—all these factors and more are continuing to impact spending in the United States and globally. Where will the U.S. consumer go from here? And how will brands and retailers respond?

The CMO Council is teaming with Commerce Signals, a Verisk Financial company, to conduct a deep dive into changing U.S. purchasing behavior during the Covid pandemic and beyond. Commerce Signals offers unparalleled insights into consumer spending based on a continuous and anonymized view of credit and debit card spending behavior from some 40 million U.S. households, with the ability to continuously analyze shopper behavior across virtually all retail and direct-to-consumer business categories, down to specific retailers by zip code or store location. The information spans a comprehensive range of retail categories from airlines, lodging and rental cars, to restaurants, grocery, department, drug, discount, mass merchant, clothing, and electronics stores, and many more.   

Our investigation will be augmented by interviews with marketers in key retail and direct-to-consumer categories to capture their views on where spending will evolve from here and how their companies will respond to these changes.




Understanding where U.S. consumers are heading is always a challenging assignment.  But perhaps never more so than during the past 18 months as the pandemic dramatically and quite suddenly reshaped spending across a wide range of consumer goods, services and buying channels. Now, as the immediate effects of the pandemic begin to ease, marketers are asking themselves how consumers have changed and how spending patterns will look into the future.


What’s Trending in Consumer Spending is a new initiative by the CMO Council to closely examine the impacts of the pandemic on the American consumer and what marketers believe the future will bring.



Commerce Signals, a Verisk Financial business, is a leading source of credit and debit card data for marketers. With a permissioned and anonymized view of consumer credit and debit card spending behavior, Commerce Signals’ powerful insights, accurate audiences and closed loop measurement help eliminate waste and boost marketing ROI. Its solutions are used by some of the largest retailers, direct to consumer and adtech companies in the country.



Curated Facts & Stats

Shopping habits of the younger cohort differ significantly from baby boomers. Approximately 37% of Gen Z consumers allowed tracking in order to see more relevant advertising, with the remaining 43% opting out. For baby boomers, the vast majority opted out.


Household debt increased by 2%, or $312 billion, in the second quarter of this year, bringing the total to $16.15 trillion.


Consumers are twice as pessimistic about the economy today than they've been throughout the pandemic.


59% of U.S. consumers are buying less expensive brands to combat inflation.


Just over half (51%) of the consumers indicated that the number of online purchases they make during work time has increased since the start of the pandemic.


Forty-two percent more shoppers worldwide and 37% more in the U.S. said they plan to start buying gifts earlier as a way to get better deals.


Savings jumped to $2.9 trillion and then settled down to “only” $2.3 trillion in 2021. So consumers saved hugely more than usual in the last two years.


In March 2022, spending on services adjusted for inflation hit a record $8.6 trillion


Online shopping shows no signs of slowing down and is expected to account for 22% of global retail sales by 2023.


Some 51 percent of consumers reported a desire to splurge and indulge themselves in a fit of post-pandemic revenge spending



Curated Reading