Consumer behaviour in a health crisis: What happened to cash?
Author(s) Foster, Kevin; Greene, Claire
Publication year 2021
Publication name Journal of Payments Strategy & Systems
Material typeAcademic journal

This paper uses data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's 2019 Survey and Diary of Consumer Payment Choice and interim rapidresponse surveys in spring and late summer 2020 to give some insights into consumer cash holdings and payments behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper describes several key findings from the survey, most notably that US consumers increased their cash holdings at the time of the pandemic lockdowns. More consumers held at least some cash, and almost half of consumers had more than US$100 in spring and late summer 2020, compared with one-third in autumn 2019. In spring, just onethird of consumers reported making an in-person payment, compared with almost everyone in autumn 2019. People who paid in person, however, were about as likely to use cash in the spring as they had been in the previous autumn. Payments of unemployment benefits appear to have affected cash holding for some consumers. Similar to the behaviour of some consumers in advance of hurricanes, some consumers reported getting precautionary amounts of cash.

Keyword(s)Consumer behavior, COVID-19 pandemic, Federal Reserve banks, Consumer preferences, Late payment, Health behavior, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

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