“Despite yet another COVID-19 variant, the US economy ended 2021 in good shape, with rising consumer confidence and unemployment rates that fell to a pandemic-era low. Alongside the strong economic gains, consumers’ financial situations also continued to improve, with most remaining optimistic about their finances going into 2022. As the US enters the new year, all eyes will be on inflation and whether supply chain conditions can improve, with the former strongly dependent on the actions the Federal Reserve decides to take in 2022.”
– Amr Hamdi, Finance Analyst

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer finances within the past year
  • Sentiments toward consumers’ financial future
  • Change in consumer spending habits
  • How consumers plan to manage inflation

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • The US economy continued to improve throughout 2021, as did the financial situations of 40% of consumers
      • Figure 1: Change in financial situation in the past 12 months, 2021
    • Despite surging inflation, consumers still plan to put their money to use
      • Figure 2: Future spending behaviors, 2021
      • Figure 3: Klarna holiday ad, 2021
      • Figure 4: Amex Plan It promotional email, 2021
    • Lowering nonessential spending and discount hunting are how over half of consumers plan to combat inflation
      • Figure 5: Changes consumers would make due to inflation, 2021
      • Figure 6: Capital One Shopping email, 2021
    • Market overview
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Supply chain and labor shortages could undermine economic recovery going into 2022
    • Inflation remains key to the state of the US economy heading into 2022
  3. State of the Economy

    • Economic overview
      • Figure 7: Key economic indicators, 2021
    • Unemployment fell to 3.9% as rates continue to improve month after month
      • Figure 8: Unemployment and underemployment, 2007-21
    • Consumer sentiment rebounded in December despite inflation concerns
      • Figure 9: Consumer Sentiment Index, 2007-21
    • Consumer Price Index surged to 6.8% for the 12 months ending November 2021
      • Figure 10: Consumer Price Index change from previous period, 2007-21
    • Disposable personal income fell for a third straight month
      • Figure 11: Disposable personal income change from previous period, 2007-21
    • Personal saving rate fell to its lowest level since December 2019
      • Figure 12: Personal saving rate, seasonally adjusted, 2007-21
  4. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Most are optimistic about their financial futures going into 2022
    • Nearly half of unemployed adults are worse off
    • Higher-income households added most to their savings in the past three months
  5. Opinions about Financial Future

    • Most are optimistic about their financial futures going into 2022
      • Figure 13: Opinions on financial future, 2021
    • Multiculturals remain optimistic about their finances despite bearing brunt of the pandemic
      • Figure 14: Opinions on financial future, by race and ethnicity, 2021
  6. Change in Financial Situation

    • Four in 10 consumers are financially better off than before
      • Figure 15: Change in financial situation in the past 12 months, 2021
    • Nearly half of unemployed adults are worse off
      • Figure 16: Change in financial situation in the past 12 months, by employment status, 2021
  7. Financial Situation Recovery

    • More than a third of financially struggling households expect to recover within one to two years
      • Figure 17: Expectation for financial recovery, by financial situation, 2021
  8. Past Spending Behaviors

    • Domestic travel saw the most gains compared to earlier in the year
      • Figure 18: Past spending behaviors, 2021
    • Higher-income households added most to their savings in the past three months
      • Figure 19: Top three past spending behaviors, by income level, 2021
  9. Future Spending Behaviors

    • Consumers show appetite for spending amid holiday season
      • Figure 20: Future spending behaviors, 2021
  10. Changes Consumers Would Make Due to Inflation

    • Over half would cut back on nonessential spending and seek out more discounts due to inflation
      • Figure 21: Changes consumers would make due to inflation, 2021
    • Gen Zs and Millennials most likely to purchase more using credit amid rising inflation
      • Figure 22: Changes consumers would make due to inflation, by generation, 2021
  11. Nonessential Categories Consumers Would Cut Back Spending On

    • Dining out, entertainment the top two nonessential categories most would cut back spending on
      • Figure 23: Nonessential categories consumers would cut back spending on, 2021
  12. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

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