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Delta variant starting to alter consumer spending – except among unvaccinated

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People spend time at an ice skating rink in The Galleria mall on Aug. 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

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Retail sales numbers come out today along with earnings from two retail giants – Walmart and Home Depot. This week we’ll also get quarterly updates from Target, Lowes, Macy’s and Ross. Consumers have been spending a lot this summer, going to events and dining out again, traveling, shopping.

But, the delta variant could be another economic curve ball. 

After getting vaccinated this spring, Gaelan Duncan in Canby, Oregon, started taking steps back into the world – going out to eat, going shopping in person. But now, with delta? 

“It gives me a little bit of pause to go back out and do some of those things,” he said.

So, he’s baby-stepping his way back. “Yes, I would say that I would definitely err more on the side of ordering online,” he said.

Duncan is not alone in that. Jesse Wheeler, an economic analyst with Morning Consult said delta is already changing consumer spending.

“People are reading the news, and they’re becoming more fearful,” Wheeler said.

Still, the latest foot traffic data for many big box retail stores are not showing a slowdown, yet. But, that might be because of unvaccinated people. Chris Jackson with the polling firm Ipsos said, many Americans who’ve gotten the shot are feeling anxious, but not so with the unvaccinated.  

“There’s very little data suggesting that they’re not going out,” Jackson said, adding that it’s not likely to stop even if infections soar. 

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