Travel Spending on Track to Rebound in 2022
New Year, New Me Spending Undeterred By Omicron Surge in January
February 16, 2022
Despite the challenging start, many Americans are likely making good on their resolutions to travel more and practice more self-care in 2022. In January, the Tally Credit Card Spending Index reported double-digit year-over-year and month-over-month spikes in spending on travel, restaurants, and personal care and fitness. Meanwhile, retail purchases – most notable for clothing and electronics - fell but still remained relevant, as expected following the holidays.
Travel Poised to Make a Comeback in 2022
Though the surge in Omicron cases drove many people to cancel their travel plans in January, it did not stop them from booking future travel. Credit card spending on airlines, hotels and vacation vendors rose 53.2% year-over-year and 17.3% month-over-month in January. However, this comeback could face setbacks if a new variant causes a new surge in COVID-19 cases. Travel spending is still well-below pre-pandemic levels, making up just 8.4% of all credit card purchases now versus 12.1% in January 2019.
Self-Care Spending Rebounds Again
Personal care and fitness spending rose 33.3% year-over-year and 17.6% month-over-month in January, making up 2.1% of all credit card purchases. Gym memberships and fitness classes typically see a surge in January. Though this spending spike is larger than what was previously observed, it appears to be more of a correction versus an emerging trend. Credit card purchases in this category had been down in the last months of 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 surges at that time.
Dining In and Take Out Expenses Hit New Heights
The sudden surge in Omicron cases and continued price inflation likely drove the notable increase in restaurant spending at the beginning of the year. This includes purchases made on delivery apps, takeout and in-restaurant dining. Compared to a year and month ago, spending rose 36.6% and 17.2% respectively. Moreover, spending in this category made up 17.9% of all credit card purchases in January – a high last seen in September 2021. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the share of spend on restaurants was rarely above 15%.
Retail Spending Continues Downward Trend
Credit card spending on retail purchases fell 20.4% month-over-month in January, following a seasonal holiday spending bump between October and December. This decline was largely driven by notable drops in spending on clothing and electronics, which fell 34.4% and 16.0% respectively in January from a month ago. This downward trend may continue into 2022 if ongoing price inflation and rising interest rates cause a large-scale cutback in overall spending.
Tracking the spending habits of Americans carrying credit card debt since January 2019, the Tally Credit Card Spending Index ranks the share of dollars spent using credit cards each month at retailers and merchants in categories, including entertainment, groceries, personal care and fitness, shopping, restaurants and travel.
The Tally Credit Card Spending Index ranks the share of purchases made each month in several categories: entertainment, groceries, home improvement, personal care and fitness, pets, restaurants, shopping (includes electronics and clothing), travel, transportation and other. The “other” category includes unspecified transactions and categories that are too small to be ranked separately.
Each monthly index is based on a statistically significant sampling of approximately 200,000 anonymized credit card transactions in a given month made by Tally members, many of whom carry credit card debt. The index has been tracking credit card transactions since January 2019. All historical transaction data has been normalized to the most current month.
Share of the spend measures the proportion of total dollars spent in each category relative to total credit card expenses within a month. Percentage changes are calculated using the total dollar amount spent in each category on a month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year basis.