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Signs of Return: The Cardlytics Recovery Indicator

Across all industries, US consumer spend continues to trend up as more states reopen their economies. When looking at weekly spend, Cardlytics purchase insights show that overall spend is pacing at -11.4% year over year. This is a significant improvement compared to a low point of –34.3% YOY in late March.

But does this mean that consumers are easing back into their pre-COVID-19 shopping patterns? As impacted marketers seek to time their return, we need to go a level deeper to understand when spend is returning to normal. To help answer this question, I’m pleased to announce the Cardlytics Recovery Indicator.  

What is the Cardlytics Recovery Indicator?

The Cardlytics Recovery Indicator was designed to help brands keep a pulse on consumer confidence and choose the right time to ramp up their marketing. In order to forecast when consumers may be ready to return to stores, we’ve looked at trends for select discretionary categories—comparing weekly spend at low-ticket, high-frequency businesses such as salons, apparel retailers, casual dining and QSR restaurants, among others.

Purchase insights like these are the foundation for precisely targeted campaigns in our ad platform and can be used to drive sales from customers who are starting to purchase again outside of their homes. We’ll be sharing the Cardlytics Recovery Indicator regularly via our State of Spend report series.

Overall, recovery is trending in the right direction

Marketers who have been waiting for signs of recovery shouldn’t wait much longer. While customers remain cautious about spending on non-essentials and returning to their normal buying patterns, they are gradually gaining confidence each week. After dropping to a low of -75% YOY at the end of March, spend at brands within the Recovery Indicator has continued to climb back up — reaching -40.85% YOY the week of 5/28- 6/3. This momentum is represented by a gain of +34 points.

When looking at total spend with Recovery Indicator brands, we see consumers continuing to spend more each week, albeit at fluctuating rates. The last week of May, they spent 6.3% more than the week before, a slightly lower rate of increase than the 12% growth we saw previously.

Making the Cardlytics Recovery Indicator actionable

As marketers plan their return, the effectiveness and efficiency of their campaigns will depend on their ability to prioritize the individuals who are ready to spend. At Cardlytics, we’re committed to helping marketers predict where and when spend at their stores is likely to return. By overlaying our Recovery Indicator on their unique customer sets, we help gauge customer confidence and choose the right time to ramp up marketing. We also help our clients acquire new customers by prioritizing people who have resumed normal spending and by focusing on regions of the country that are showing strong signs of recovery.

One of our clients—a national restaurant chain—wanted to re-engage customers as they became comfortable making purchases outside the home. Using our purchase insights, Cardlytics was able to identify customers actively purchasing from quick service restaurants. Through targeted offers in customers’ online and mobile banking channels, we helped our client reach the most likely customers and drive sales for their pickup and drive-through locations.

Want more actionable insights?

With insight into 50% of US transactions, Cardlytics puts purchase insights into action every day for advertisers in banks’ digital channels. Whether marketers are experiencing ups or downs in consumer spend, we’re here to help our clients navigate the curve and drive measurable sales. Contact us for an analysis and campaign strategy customized for your brand.

These insights were recently featured in our State of Spend report, which follows important shifts in consumer spend and track early signs of recovery. Download our latest State of Spend Report today and be sure to check back for the next issue.


Analysis in this report is based on data derived from the Cardlytics platform between March 5th and June 3rd. While analysis is representative of purchase behavior, it does not include every customer or every financial institution on the Cardlytics platform.

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