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Press Release

Which Consumers Will Open their Wallets When the Pandemic is Over?

A new Cleveland Fed report finds the potential for a strong rebound in spending on services in high-contact industries as vaccines are widely administered, especially among individuals in higher-income households. But older Americans’ views on their post-pandemic plans are more pessimistic.

In the Commentary, “Expected Post-Pandemic Consumption and Scarred Expectations from COVID-19,” researchers use the Cleveland Fed’s Consumers and COVID-19 survey work to examine the evolution of consumers’ expectations for their post-crisis spending on services that have been dramatically curtailed by the pandemic: visiting restaurants, bars, and hotels, using public transportation, and attending crowded events.

“We document a U-shaped pattern of expected future use of these services, with growing pessimism in the summer of 2020 that had largely reversed by the fall of 2020—for most groups,” say the researchers. “More recently, higher-income individuals have indicated that they expect to sharply increase their use of these services compared with their pre-pandemic behaviors, but there has been a notable scarring of expectations among older Americans.”

As part of its Consumers and COVID-19 survey work, the Cleveland Fed has been asking consumers a variety of questions about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on their expectations. Since April 2020, the survey has included questions about consumers’ expectations for their post-pandemic spending on services that have been dramatically curtailed by the pandemic. Responses to the survey provide an opportunity to gauge consumers’ current beliefs and how those beliefs have evolved over time.

Read the Economic Commentary: Expected Post-Pandemic Consumption and Scarred Expectations from COVID-19 (

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.455.4479