Demand for Live Events Drives Up Entertainment Spending
Retail Sales Boosted only Slightly by Amazon Prime Day and other Discount Days in June
July 12, 2021
Pent-Up Demand for Live Events Drives Spending Surge:
Entertainment spending made up 5.3% of all credit card purchases in June. This is the first time spending in this category has exceeded 5% since February 2020.
Summer Sales Drives Small Boost to Retail Spending:
Credit card purchases at retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target rose by 2.7% month-over-month in June, ending months of decline.
Travel and Commute Spending Up Slightly Amid Strong Demand and Higher Costs:
Both travel and commuting rose 3.0% month-over-month, respectively, in June.
The Tally Credit Card Spending Index tracks spending habits of Americans carrying credit card debt. It ranks the share of dollars spent using credit cards each month at retailers and merchants in several categories, such as entertainment, groceries, personal care and fitness, shopping, restaurants and travel.
Entertainment Spending Soars Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels
Entertainment spending is back to pre-pandemic levels, making up 5.3% of all credit card purchases in June. This is the first time spending in this category has exceeded 5% since February 2020. In pre-pandemic times, entertainment purchases made up more than 5% of all credit card spending within a month. During most of the pandemic, spending hovered between 3% and 4%.
Trending up since April when more entertainment and recreation related businesses were allowed to reopen, spending in this category rose 7.3% month-over-month from May, 9.6% quarter-over-quarter from March, and 37.1% year-over-year from June 2020. Many of the purchases in June were related to amusement parks or tickets to live events with retailers such as TicketMaster and Stubhub. This surge in demand is unsurprising given that 96% of Americans planned to return to some form of live event once it’s safe in a survey of 1,000 18-54 year olds in April.
Higher Costs Add to Travel and Commute Spending
Travel spending continues to climb as summer vacations kick into high gear and restrictions ease. In June, credit card purchases from airlines, hotels and vacation vendors made up 9.5% of total credit card purchases—a 3% jump from a month ago.
Compared to last June when the travel industry was still struggling, spending is now up 78.2% year-over-year. This is the highest the share of travel spending has been since February 2020 when spending made up 10.1% of total credit card purchases. During the height of the pandemic, the share of travel-related credit card spending hovered between 2% and 6% between April 2020 and December 2020.
Meanwhile, commute-related spending made up 8.3% of total credit card purchases in June, rising 3% month-over-month. This is the first monthly gain since March. It’s likely driven by a combination of higher gas prices and companies calling their workers back to the office. On the latter, gas prices have hit a seven-year high, having risen 40% since January.
Amazon Prime Day Moderately Bumps Up Retail Spending
Following Amazon’s lead, several major retailers held discount days to compete with Prime Day. The result? A small 2.7% month-over-month bump in retail spending. As a category, retail made up 21.1% of credit card purchases in June and had been falling closer to pre-pandemic levels in recent months.
Electronics purchases drove most of this category’s increase this month. Spending at retailers such as Best Buy, GameStop and Apple made up 11.4% of all credit card purchases in June, a 8.7% month-over-month increase from May. Spending in this subcategory has been elevated throughout 2020. Before the pandemic, monthly spending on electronics typically hovered between 5% and 8%.
Meanwhile, spending on clothing-specific retailers fell 6.9% month-over-month in June, making up 6.5% of all credit card transactions in June. This suggests a cooling on the recent “revenge spending” trend where Americans were shopping en masse to refresh their wardrobes in anticipation of upcoming vacations and social gatherings. Overall, spending in this subcategory is still lower than pre-pandemic levels, where spending was usually above 8%
Restaurant Spending Eases Slightly
Demand for dining out, take out and food delivery remains strong, making up 17.4% of total credit card spending in June. However, this is a slight 1.9% month-over-month decline from May — likely a reflection of people diversifying their non-essential spending from food to entertainment.
Since the start of the year, spending in this category has been steadily climbing as vaccination rates increase and social distancing restrictions ease. Compared to a year ago, restaurant spending is up 20.6% from June 2020.
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.