Year in Review: What We Spent Money on in 2020

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The coronavirus pandemic has shifted how Americans spent money this year. A recent Bank of America survey of more than 2,500 adults found that 64% changed their spending habits since the start of the pandemic.

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Instead of splurging on dinners out and vacations, consumers poured more money into their at-home lives, spending more on food and entertainment that could be enjoyed without leaving the house.

Here’s a look back at what Americans spent money on in 2020.

Last updated: Dec. 31, 2020
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The majority of Americans — 85% — said they have been spending more on groceries in 2020, an August survey conducted by C+R Research found. Consumers spent an average of $139 per week on groceries since the start of the pandemic.

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Cleaning Products

Americans loaded up on disinfecting wipes and sprays this year. A TD Ameritrade survey conducted during the initial months of the pandemic found that 53% of Americans reported spending more on cleaning products than pre-pandemic, with the average extra spending at $92.

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With restaurants in many places closed during initial lockdowns, Americans spent more on takeout this year. A survey conducted by Bid-On-Equipment about Americans’ takeout habits from March to July found that 65% had been ordering more takeout, with the average American ordering takeout 2.4 times a week. The average weekly spend on takeout was $67.


Candy and Snacks

Takeout wasn’t the only food indulgence Americans enjoyed more of this year. The TD Ameritrade survey found that 32% of Americans were spending more than usual on candy and snacks, with the average extra spend on these items at $64.

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Streaming Services

Nearly a third of Americans — 32% — reported spending more on streaming services, the TD Ameritrade survey found. Those that spent more spent an average of $71 on streaming services that they were not paying for pre-pandemic.

Netflix was one of the big winners of the streaming boom. The company reported that it added 28.1 million subscriptions in the first nine months of the year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Home Entertainment

Over a quarter of Americans — 26% — said they spent more on entertainment items, like books and video games, during the first months of the pandemic, the TD Ameritrade survey found. Consumers spent an extra $92 on entertainment.

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With extra time on their hands, Americans took up new hobbies like painting and gardening. 24% of Americans reported an increase in spending on hobbies, with an average spending increase of $88, the TD Ameritrade survey found.

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Sixty-four percent of Americans said they saved money during the initial months of the pandemic by not going out for drinks, the TD Ameritrade survey found. However, some Americans increased their spending on alcohol to bring the bar experience home. Twenty-three percent of those surveyed said they spent more than alcohol than usual, with the average increase in spending at $124.

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As Americans transitioned to working and learning from home, many needed to buy new tech products, like computers and tablets. 19% of Americans said they spent additional money on technology during the initial months of the pandemic, with the average increase in spending at $175, the TD Ameritrade survey found.

That spending has stretched into more recent months, too. Best Buy recently reported its highest sales in 25 years for the fiscal quarter ending Oct. 31, CNN reported. Consumers have continued to buy laptops, home theater systems, kitchen appliances and other electronics as they spend more time at home. Best Buy’s sales increased by 23% compared to sales during the same period last year.

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Charitable Donations and Gifts

While many Americans suffered from job loss, those that were able to give gave more than usual during the initial months of the pandemic. The TD Ameritrade survey found that 19% of Americans increased their charitable donations, with the average extra contribution at $245.

The spirit of giving seems to have ramped up again in time for the holidays. A recent survey by the NPD Group found that 40% of consumers plan on buying more gifts this year to bring joy during challenging times.

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With people stuck at home for weeks, some resorted to online shopping for clothes as a form of entertainment. The TD Ameritrade survey found that 16% of Americans reported spending more shopping for fashion items online than pre-pandemic, with the average extra spend at $134.  However, the survey also found that the majority of Americans — 73% — were spending less on clothes than usual as a result of the pandemic.

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Furniture and Home Decor

As people spent more time at home, some decided it was time to upgrade their spaces. The TD Ameritrade survey found that 12% of Americans reported increased spending on furniture and home decor, with the average additional spending at $255.

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