Harris Poll Survey Forecasts Consumer Spending Rebound in Q4 and 2021

After a year of disappointing numbers, there may be hope around the corner. A new study from OpenX and The Harris Poll predicts a rise in both consumer spending and marketing budgets for Q4 and 2021.

The survey, which polled 1,000 U.S. consumers in late July (as well as 391 B2C marketers and 111 B2B marketers), revealed key insights about consumer spending patterns and behavior.

COVID-19’s impact on spending:

  • 54% of consumers are spending less money in 2020, with more than 20% spending significantly less. The top reason consumers said they were not spending as much was that they aren’t leaving the house as frequently, followed closely by being worried about the state of the economy.
  • On the positive side, the dip in spending has allowed consumer to add to their savings: 28% of consumers report saving money during COVID-19;
  • Of those that saved, more than 50% expect to increase discretionary spending in Q4 or 2021 as a result; and
  • 51% of consumers plan to make a big-ticket ($500+) purchase this year.

Holiday spending is projected to either stay level with 2019 or to rise, but there’s uncertainty about 2021 spending plans:

  • Despite the pandemic, 58% of consumers expect to spend the same amount or more than recent years this holiday season, with only 17% expecting to spend significantly less;  
  • Even for people who had jobs impacted by COVID-19, 46% expect to spend the same or more than they did in past seasons; and
  • While 41% of consumers said it’s too early to say what they will spend in 2021, 36% of consumers can already say they plan to spend more in 2021 than they did in 2020.

The survey also supported how the pandemic has expedited the shift to online shopping:

  • 44% of consumers have increased their online shopping;
  •  8% of consumers are making daily online purchases; and
  • 37% of consumers said mobile shopping has increased, and more digital shopping is now happening on a mobile device than on a desktop (52% vs. 48%).

Other key findings from the report include:

  • 74% of consumers are reading or watching the news more since COVID-19 began;
  • 80% of consumers said that seeing a brand next to a story about COVID-19 would either have no impact on their opinion of the brand, or may actually have a positive impact;
  • 46% of consumers want brands to acknowledge social justice issues — and among Gen Z and Millennials, this increases to 64%; and
  • 57% of consumers said they are more likely to buy/use a product if a company takes a position on a social justice issue that is similar to how they feel (77% of Gen Z/Millennials). However, if a brand takes a position that is different than how they feel, 61% say they are less likely to buy/use that product.

To download the full report, visit   


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