Study Anticipates Digital-First Americans' Shopping Habits During Recession

A new survey from Denver-based marketing agency Adtaxi finds that since 2017, the percentage of people shopping online daily has nearly tripled -- leaving room for digital marketers to resonate with consumers who are in search of essential goods, regardless of the state of the economy.

According to Adtaxi’s 2022 Economy Concerns Survey, 9 out of 10 Americans shop online at least once a month, compared to 71% in 2017. The study also finds that 60% Americans shop online weekly -- up from 27% five years ago. 

Consumers now use the internet to shop for everything from apparel (66%) to groceries (46%) and CBD (11%). 

In addition, there is a heightened reliance on the internet for price comparisons, searching for deals, and reading reviews before buying. 



If the U.S. economy enters a recession in the next year, 36% of respondents say they will increase their reliance on online price-comparisons, further distancing the internet from other media when it comes to shopping utility.  Thirty-two percent say they will cut in-store (non-Grocery) shopping completely. 

The survey also shows that people are already beginning to limit spending due to the economy, as 21% of clothing purchases, 24% of appliance purchases, and 23% of home or real estate purchases are being negatively impacted by the anxiety consumers are feeling while anticipating a recession. 

While travel has recently rebounded post-pandemic, 28% of Americans are putting off vacations due to the economy. In addition, half (51%) will cut travel expenditures if the U.S. enters a recession.

“It is not surprising that the results of the survey reflect that consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on digital services for everyday needs,” says Chris Loretto, executive vice president, Adtaxi. “Despite the potential for economic recession, it is important for digital marketers to continue capturing the attention of digital audiences to stay top of mind when the economy inevitably rebounds.”

Whether they are currently enrolled in-school or online, or they plan to be, half of U.S. adults are engaged in the education system.

The survey found that 17% of respondents stated they would cut their education endeavors in times of recession. Knowing undergraduate enrollment has fallen by 9% since the pandemic, anticipate shifts toward online and more affordable options.

When it comes to entertainment spending, 17% of Americans say they will cut their cable subscription if the U.S. enters a recession. That doubles the percent of Americans who would cancel either a cellphone or local newspaper subscription. 

While the pandemic kept many people at home, the number of cable households has fallen by 10% since. If an economic-based recession hits, expect cable homes to fall below 35%.  

“With consumers hyper-focused on the economy in the coming weeks and months, these results offer insight into how marketers can maximize their reach while offering buyers products that fit into their budgets,” adds Loretto. “Looking back five years, the survey statistics prove that consumers prefer to shop online and are doing so more frequently.”

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