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What Is Post-Pandemic “Revenge Spending,” and What Does it Mean for Business Owners?

Cooped-up consumers are ready to splurge, but worker shortages are hampering restaurant owners’ optimism.

By Sarah Brown1851 Franchise Copy Editor
Updated 11:11AM 05/11/21

As COVID-19 lockdown memories begin to fade, consumers are ready to invest their time — and money — in experiences they were deprived of during the pandemic. According to Bloomberg Economics, Americans saved an estimated $1.7 trillion since the beginning of the pandemic through January, and businesses are expecting a significant rebound in consumer “revenge spending” over the next few months.

The term “revenge spending” gained popularity in China last April when the country began to return to normal after its early experience with the virus. According to Bloomberg, the result was a surge in retail sales. U.S. jeweler Tiffany & Co.’s China sales surged 90% in May compared to the previous year, and Hermes, the French luxury label known for its $10,000 handbags, raked in $2.7 million in one day from a store reopening in Guangzhou.

The U.S.’s projected surge in revenge spending comes as nationwide worker shortages continue to frustrate restaurant owners eager to take advantage of pent-up demand for dining out. Although a recent Morning Consult study revealed 60% of consumers are comfortable dining out as of late April, restaurants are struggling to find workers to meet the demand. One McDonald’s franchisee, for example, is offering applicants $50 just to interview.

According to a recent article, businesses will have to “consistently deliver superior customer experiences and a high level of employee engagement” in order to capitalize on the revenge spending wave. The article also reminds business owners that “boosting your customer retention rate by as little as 5% can increase your profits anywhere from 25% to 95%,” meaning the more a business invests in its customer service skills, the more happy and loyal customers it will have.