Inflation Not Slowing Down Spend on Travel, Commuting and Entertainment
Spring breakers likely driving demand to go out
April 12, 2022
Despite current gas prices hitting a record-high, Americans are ready and more than willing to pay extra to go out and have fun. Credit card spending jumped the most month-over-month in March for travel (up 20.7%), commuting (up 19.2%), and entertainment (13.4%), according to the latest Tally Credit Card Spending Index.
Travelers undeterred by rising costs
Credit card spending on airlines, hotels and vacation vendors rose 20.7% month-over-month and 11.4% year-over-year in March. This increase is likely driven by stronger consumer demand for travel and higher costs. Travel spending is still well-below pre-pandemic levels, making up just 8.6% of all credit card purchases now versus 12.1% in January 2019.
Gas prices likely driving commute spending spike
Record-high gas prices have now become much more apparent. Commute spending rose 19.2% month-over-month and 28.4% year-over-year in March likely due to the rise of current gas prices. Hitting a three-year high, credit card spending on gas, car maintenance and public transportation made up 9.5% of all credit card expenses in March. In the last three years, the share of commute-related purchases did not exceed 9.1% and fell to 5.4% in April 2020.
Entertainment spending climbing back up
Entertainment spending rose 13.4% month-over-month in March. This jump is likely driven by spring break-related purchases to amusement parks, concerts, dining out, sporting events and live shows. Since the COVID-19 vaccine became available to children over five years old, more families are likely to travel and go out during spring break.
In the first year of the pandemic, spending in the entertainment category hovered between 3% and 4% in 2020. When the vaccines first became available in 2021, entertainment spending jumped above 5% from June to December. It fell in early 2022 likely coinciding with rising cases of the Omicron variant and the return to work and school after the holidays.
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.