Research Special Topics

Consumer Spending during the COVID-19 Outbreak

May 2020

A bi-weekly update on changes in consumer spending in New York City to understand which of the city’s industries and businesses are most impacted by COVID-19.


May 17-23: Overall Consumer Spending

Consumer spending in New York City declined 8% year-over-year.

City spending growth decelerated after three consecutive weeks of increasing sales growth, as the city shutdown limited the spending increase typically seen during the week preceding Memorial Day, which occurred on May 25. New York City spending declined 16% compared to the week ending May 16.

Note: Excludes auto sales. Data reflects year-over-year growth rates in seven-day moving averages.

Consumer spending data is provided by Mastercard. Mastercard SpendingPulse™ provides market intelligence based on national retail sales across all payment types. Findings are based on aggregated sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.

New York City’s Uneven Spending Recovery

Despite the deceleration in spending growth during the week ending May 23, city sales have recovered significantly since spending growth bottomed out at -44% in late March. However, the gradual return to 2019 spending levels has been uneven across the five boroughs. Year-over-year spending growth in the Bronx and Staten Island has recovered more quickly, with growth outpacing rates seen across the rest of the country. On the other hand, spending growth in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens has lagged that of the rest of the U.S.

Brooklyn and Manhattan have registered the most sluggish rebound, with one of the two posting the lowest spending growth out of the five boroughs in each of the last eight weeks. Brooklyn and Manhattan often had lower spending growth than the other counties across restaurant, lodging, and grocery spend over the same period.

Top Performing New York City Industries

  • Home improvement posted the strongest growth of any major category for the week ending May 23, with spending up 51% relative to the same week in 2019. City home improvement sales have benefited from consumers’ limited mobility, as spending has outperformed 2019 levels since the week ending April 4.

Underperforming New York City Industries

  • Spending on lodging dropped 75% during the week ending May 23, the sector’s largest decline since the week ending April 11. City hotel occupancy was 45% for the week ending May 23, essentially flat relative to occupancy during the two preceding weeks, per data analytics firm STR.

Every major category posted lower sales than the previous week.


Mastercard produces weekly SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales that include data on additional sectors, macroeconomic indicators and expert analysis of current market conditions and forecasts of future spending. Mastercard occasionally makes adjustments to statistical estimation techniques and may restate historic data.

If you are interested in receiving SpendingPulse™ reports, please contact us and we will make the connection.


SpendingPulse™ content is based on various sources including the aggregated sales activity of the Mastercard U.S. payments network coupled with estimates on all other payments forms including cash and check. SpendingPulse™ content or portions thereof may not be copied, modified or published in any form or media, except as authorized by Mastercard. SpendingPulse™ content (a) is intended solely as a research tool for informational purposes and not as investment advice or recommendations for any particular action or investment and should not be relied upon, in whole or in part, as the basis for decision-making or investment purposes, and (b) is not guaranteed as to accuracy and is provided on an “AS IS” basis.