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Cardlytics State of Spend: Surpassing Month Six of a Global Pandemic

6 minute read

Toilet paper. Board games. Flour. Athleisure wear. Home gym equipment. Hand sanitizer. Who could have predicted these would be the hottest selling items of 2020? With disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer slowly returning to shelves, the biggest questions on the minds of marketers continue to be:

  • How and where is the economy recovering?
  • Where will consumers continue to spend their dollars?
  • How do you engage and drive loyalty in this ‘new normal’?

As we surpass the six-month milestone of living in a global pandemic, we’ve taken a closer look at our purchase data to help advertisers answer these questions and more so that they can adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.

Overall Spend YoY

There is good news in overall consumer spend as it’s now the closest it’s been to pre-COVID levels, down just over two percent Year over Year (YoY). Categories have seen varying levels of recovery, ranging from General Retail to 8.8% Year over Year (YoY) and Restaurant rebounding to -9 YoY.

Recovery Leading Indicator

Our Recovery Leading Indicator (RLI) tracks spend in select discretionary categories to help brands measure consumer confidence during the recovery. It compares weekly spend in categories such as Salons, Apparel Retailers, Casual Dining and QSR restaurants, among others. After a low of -68% year-over-year (YoY) in April, the RLI is only down 15.5% through September.

And there are a few industry bright spots worth highlighting through September:

Travel Inches Forward

Travel continues to suffer as the pandemic sees new surges and restrictions remain, down 49% YoY. But, this hard hit industry has recovered significantly after dipping to its worst levels at -85% YoY in April. However, with four straight weeks of growth led by Alternative Lodging (+25% YoY in Sept.), the path to recovery continues.

Less traffic on the roads has been a bright spot for drivers throughout the pandemic so we’ve seen very little movement in fuel spend, currently sitting at -25% YoY since early June. As the holidays approach, we will look to see whether we witness another spike as people hit the roads again.

The pandemic has been the single most disruptive economic event of our lifetimes. More than 13 million people remain unemployed, about seven million more than pre-COVID. Given this instability, it is no surprise that consumer spend continues to vary widely across categories. With an advertising platform that reaches nearly 160 million bank customers, Cardlytics can help marketers create targeted campaigns that help answer: 

• When & where are customers starting to make in-store purchases?

• How quickly am I gaining or losing share vs. my industry?

• How is my eCommerce channel performing against my category?

• Are my newly acquired customers likely to churn?

Whether marketers are experiencing ups or downs in consumer spend, Cardlytics is focused on helping our clients navigate the times and drive measurable sales. Contact us today for an analysis and a campaign strategy customized for your brand.

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