Spending on Travel and Restaurants Down, But Electricity Steady

In March, the American consumer spent 69 percent less on travel outside the country, compared with February. And 62 percent less on motion picture theaters, 58 percent less on live entertainment, 53 percent less on airfare, 52 percent less on cabs and ride-sharing, 51 percent less on hotels, 49 percent less on amusement parks, 45 percent less on casino gambling, 42 percent less on rental cars, and 40 percent less on spectator sports.

Due to the coronavirus crisis and stay-at-home policies, consumer expenditures fell sharply in virtually every category in March. The exceptions were few but interesting.

Expenditures at supermarkets and grocery stores went up by 21 percent. While expenditures at restaurants went down by 24 percent.

Expenditures on household cleaning and paper products went up by 13 percent. And Americans spent 30 percent more on security commissions. Must have come from all that selling of stock.  

Through all of this, consumer expenditures on electric utility service were unchanged from February to March.

Though, since total expenditures — on all goods and services — decreased by a remarkable eight percent in March, electric service as a percentage of total expenditures rose to 1.41 percent. This key indicator of electricity’s affordability hasn’t been this high in any month since December 2017.