How people shop after getting vaccinated

Marielle Segarra Apr 1, 2021
Heard on:
Freshly vaccinated shoppers are ready to make up for lost time. Samir Hussein/Getty Images for Shop West End VIP Weekend

How people shop after getting vaccinated

Marielle Segarra Apr 1, 2021
Heard on:
Freshly vaccinated shoppers are ready to make up for lost time. Samir Hussein/Getty Images for Shop West End VIP Weekend

Two weeks from now, Amy Estey is getting her second dose of the COVID vaccine at a Walgreens in Delaware. And you know how you have to wait for 15 minutes after you get the shot?

“I was actually just thinking about this the other day. That 15-minute wait time, instead of sitting in a chair, watching the clock, I should be over working on my hair supplies and lipstick and all that,” she said.

She’s planning a shopping spree. Because soon, she’ll have places to go.

“I guess it’s the idea of being out and seeing people — and being seen,” Estey said.

There’s this thing we’ve heard from people who just got vaccinated: They immediately started spending money.

One practical reason — they were anticipating finally leaving their houses.

Others are celebrating.

Colleen Nowak lives in Wisconsin. She and her husband are health care workers, and they are now fully vaccinated. Last weekend they sat down at a restaurant for the first time in a year.

“My parents are both vaccinated, and they watched our kids,” Nowak said. “And I remember telling them before we went out, like, ‘I’m going to spend a lot of money.'”

She got the steak. He got the fish. They also got bruschetta, cheesecake and two glasses of wine.  

“We were both feeling a little bit more comfortable, first of all, just going to restaurants, but maybe spending a little bit more in the restaurant, like we’re finally treating ourselves now that we can go out,” Nowak said.

It’s like they’re making up for lost time.

A lot of people are doing that.

“We’ve saved a lot of money during the pandemic and haven’t been able to do much,” said Cynthia Jones, who lives in Georgia.

But her 25th wedding anniversary is coming up, so she and her husband booked a trip to Florida in December.

“We’re gonna stay at a nicer hotel than we usually do,” Jones said. It’s the Hilton Bentley — right on the waterfront in Miami Beach.

Then they’re going to fly across the state to Clearwater “and do as much as we can, now that we’re all vaccinated,” she said.

Are you noticing a trend here in how people are spending — on makeup, restaurants, vacations? It’s on stuff they mostly haven’t done for a year.  

There might be a reason for that beyond post-vaccine euphoria.

I bought some red lipstick recently. And I pictured myself wearing it along with a crisp, white T-shirt (another recent purchase) and denim shorts. You know, hanging out at a backyard barbecue this summer, no mask needed.

It was almost like: If I buy this lipstick, I can turn that vision into reality.

Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, a therapist who focuses on financial issues, said that’s about control.

“I have been talking about this pandemic, kind of like a roller-coaster that nobody told you how long it’s going to last or how many loops there are,” she said.

And that can feel really disorienting.

“So to do something, to your point, that’s really concrete — I’m going to go to a Sephora, pick out a red lipstick, purchase it and walk out with it. That feels so good to our brains,” she said.

Especially since we would all like this pandemic to be over.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?

It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.

How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?

Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.

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