• Sara Cahill

The COVID Consumer Culture 

As we all know, life—and the way we were able to spend our money – drastically changed after we were sent home to quarantine in mid-March. With the closing of businesses and restaurants, the consumer spending took a sudden and sharp decline. 16 million people filed for unemployment and were forced to stay home, noted by the New York Times. The quarantine and precautious spending negatively impacted businesses. According to a joint study done by the University of Illinois, University of Chicago and Harvard University, it was projected that “more than 100,000 small businesses would shut down permanently” due to the virus. A coronavirus impact poll for small businesses conducted by the United States Chamber of Commerce reported that 70 percent of small businesses are stressed about financial tribulations and 58 percent are concerned about having to close.

However, with the high-speed internet and data that is accessible to most, there undoubtedly was a spike in online consumer spending and curb-side services for groceries and restaurants. According to CNBC, ordering online and picking up at stores “surged [to] 208 percent between April 1 and April 20” and other online sales jumped to “49 percent from March 12 to April 11.” Additionally, culture and tech website Mashable reported that “ecommerce sites experienced traffic that surpassed last year’s Black Friday, every single day of the month.” USF Junior Hannah Schroeder commented, “Quarantine definitely made me want to shop more because I was so bored, and all of my favorite stores were shut down! All of the sites that I visited were having huge sales that I honestly could not resist.” When asked about what websites she visited most frequently, she responded, “I ordered a lot at Michael’s and Target. I also love to shop at small businesses, so I found a lot of new stores off of Etsy or social media that I bought from.” 

As we progress into the coronavirus unknown, continue to shop small and support local businesses as they are wrestling their way through this trying time. Of course, there are a ton in Joliet and even more to discover in surrounding areas or online! I highly recommend stopping in downtown Joliet for a coffee at Jitters, authentic tacos at Blue Taco, heavenly cheesecake at Cheesecake by James and grabbing a donut from HomeCut, which is located on Jefferson. We are all in this together!

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