How US consumers are feeling, shopping, and spending—and what it means for companies

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Stick to new COVID-19-era habits, or go back to the old ways of doing things? For most US consumers, the answer seems to be “both.” Two years into the pandemic, people across the country have discovered that they like shopping online, but they’re also going back to brick-and-mortar stores. They’re venturing out of their homes again, but they’re continuing to spend money on home improvement. And—in what could be boon or bane for manufacturers and retailers—today’s consumers are quite willing to abandon their once-preferred brands in favor of new ones that offer value or novelty.

The following seven charts highlight findings from our latest Consumer Pulse survey, which was in the field between February 25 and March 1, 2022, and garnered responses from more than 2,100 US adults (sampled and weighted to match the general US population). The survey results, combined with third-party data on consumer spending, provide insights into how US consumer sentiment and behavior have been evolving since the COVID-19 pandemic began. And the evolution continues: this survey did not address the invasion of Ukraine in any form. We believe, therefore, that the results do not capture the full effect of the invasion on US consumer sentiment.

It remains to be seen how—and how intensely—recent geopolitical and economic developments will affect US consumers’ outlook. What’s clear is that, more than ever, companies must stay on top of consumers’ fast-changing attitudes and behaviors.

US consumer spending remained robust through March 2022, although nominal year-on-year growth was less than in late 2021.
In some categories and channels, increased consumption spurred more spending growth than inflation did.
More US consumers are switching brands and retailers now than in 2020 and 2021, and about 90 percent plan to continue doing so.
US consumers continued to spend more money online, but they also returned to physical stores through 2021 and early 2022.
Three out of four US consumers say that they are shopping both online and in stores—and many are participating in omnichannel activities.
While most US consumers are returning to out-of-home activities, not all are comfortable attending indoor events.
While value is paramount now, values (environmental, social, and governance issues) still matter.

The next US Consumer Pulse survey will be in the field in autumn 2022. Watch for our analysis of those survey results and our updated perspectives on the state of the US consumer, forthcoming on In the meantime, listen to the authors discuss the latest Consumer Pulse findings in this McKinsey on Consumer and Retail podcast episode.

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