It’s been a bad year for travel and entertainment spending as the coronavirus has kept concertgoers home and has canceled vacation plans. That falloff is particularly pronounced among baby boomers.
Travel and entertainment spending was down by 56 percent for Chase credit card holders born in 1964 or earlier, based on data through Sept. 26. That compared with a 40 percent drop from a year ago for cardholders born since 1981 — millennials and Generation Z.
That divergence says something about the consumer economy. The generational gap is evidence that “declines are likely driven by a combination of supply and demand,” Jesse Edgerton and Gopal Kumar, economists at J.P. Morgan, wrote in an Oct. 1 note.
While spending in the category is down partly because of ongoing restrictions on large gatherings, the difference across age groups suggests that older spenders’ “greater susceptibility to Covid-19 has left them more cautious about returning to normal levels of travel and entertainment,” the two analysts wrote.
Federal Reserve officials and economists regularly warn that it is unlikely that the economy can stage a full recovery until the virus is under control for precisely that reason: Consumers will not feel comfortable returning to some higher-risk settings until they know that they will not get sick.
“The outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in keeping the virus in check,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said at a news conference earlier this month.
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