Only a minority of Americans feel ready to spend big after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, a new survey found, underscoring how the money-saving habits formed during the pandemic could linger.
Just 3 in 10 Americans who plan to get vaccinated say they're planning to celebrate their immunity soon after by splurging on a dinner in a fancy restaurant or vacation, according to an online LendingTree survey of 1,205 Americans conducted Dec. 21-22, 2020.
Some “people are so ready for something different and for a little sense of normalcy,” Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s credit card expert, told Yahoo Money. “And splurging on something they haven't done in a long time or haven't bought in a long time is just part of that urge for normalcy.”
But most Americans are not eager or able to indulge in retail therapy even as the pandemic is brought under control. Over half said they would wait a while before splurging “just in case,” while almost a fifth said they don’t plan to splurge again, worried they may experience similar financial losses they endured in the pandemic.
The reluctance by many Americans reflects how they see their financial fortunes.
Only 1 in 4 said they feel financially secure, while 3 in 5 said they need at least six months to over a year before they would feel comfortable with their personal finances again. More than 1 in 7 reported they’ll never feel secure in their financial position again, even after the vaccine brings down the pandemic.
Many adults also won’t be able to shake the pandemic-era saving habits they formed out of necessity once the world has defeated the virus, the survey found.
More than half (55%) reported they’ll continue to save as much as possible, while over a third (37%) will loosen their savings measures but still save money. Only 8% — or 1 in 12 — said they will stop saving post-vaccine.
One area where many Americans plan to continue spending more is on premium goods and services in the name of health and safety. Seven in 10 said they would splurge on those kinds of expenses, with the most frequent premium purchases including grocery delivery, high-quality face masks, and mail delivery or package pickups, the survey found.
Looking ahead to life post-pandemic, many people reported they’ll continue spending extra on at least one thing, primarily grocery delivery, first-class travel, and spending on high-quality vitamins.
Schulz said online grocery shopping and delivery is “something that is here to stay,” noting the pandemic accelerated the trend of retailers shifting stock to support online orders rather than brick-and-mortar sales.
“I don't think we're going back,” he said.