Have you eaten in a restaurant recently? Booked a hotel room? Treated yourself to a spa day? If so, you’re helping to jump-start the U.S. economy, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday (March 19).
“The U.S. economic recovery is picking up steam as Americans increase their spending, particularly on in-person services that were battered by the coronavirus pandemic,” the WSJ noted.
People are getting vaccinated, business restrictions are being lifted and consumers have more money to spend thanks to household savings and federal stimulus money, all leading to an economic surge. According to the report, spending on gyms, salons and spas has risen to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic, when many of these businesses were forced to shut down or impose restrictions.
Meanwhile, spending on the vacation rental services Airbnb and Vrbo saw a surge at the start of March, moving past pre-COVID levels, according to Earnest Research, which tracks trends in debit/credit card spending. The firm also found that transactions on air travel, loding and online travel services have jumped sharply to their highest level since before the pandemic.
As of this week, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan had distributed $242 billion in $1,400 payments into the bank accounts and mailboxes of roughly 90 million people. PYMNTS has written before about what the stimulus means for the future of the American economy. In the wake of the pandemic, Americans are “among the global economies sitting on $2.9 trillion in savings” that accumulated during a year when they cut back on things like travel and restaurants. Many analysts believe that this level of savings will be the chief driver of the post-COVID recovery.
“You’re looking at the biggest surge in economic growth that most people who are working today have ever experienced in their working lives,” Tim Quinlan, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, told the WSJ. Quinlan expects consumer demand and accumulated savings to fuel economic growth “in a manner that’s going to take people’s breath away.”