The 2023 Consumer: Back to the Future

NRF State of Retail & the Consumer 2023 Consumer Insights

Much has been speculated about the enduring impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumers' behavior. After all, how could such a seismic event dominate lives for the last few years without permanently changing the way consumers live, work and shop? Yet, as attention shifted away from the pandemic and to other issues like the conflict in Ukraine and record levels of inflation, the much-heralded “new normal” seems remarkably similar to the old normal. Yes, consumers have become more adept at using technologies that make their lives easier like buy online, pick up in store or contactless payments, and online's share of retail spending has grown as a result. But many of these behavioral changes reflect long-term trends that were in play well before the onset of COVID-19.

Using data from Affinity Solutions Consumer Purchase Insights, NRF examined how, once these underlying factors receded, consumers reset to their typical, pre-pandemic habits and preferences.