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Stimulus check spending on books and gifts

Stimulus Check Spending: 5 of the Most Popular Items Consumers Are Buying

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Amidst the physical and mental hardship of a global pandemic, receiving stimulus checks for financial support has been a ray of hope for many people. In many cases, it has helped to keep many Americans financially afloat during these trying times; in other cases, it provided something that is equally important for the overall economy: a little spending money for wants and wishes.

This is a vital part of an economic system, providing the opportunity for the movement of money from consumers to a variety of businesses small and large and, in effect, stimulating the economy.

It’s also important for the mental health and overall well being of the American people. Life is about more than just paying your bills, it’s about being able to enjoy your life along the way as well. Having a little extra stimulus money to treat themselves, friends, and family offered stress relief for many people, and you can see that from the way that their spending habits were impacted.

Here are a a few items that people are spending their stimulus money on:

1. Gifts

As a general category, many items purchased over the past year have been gifts.

An underlying feeling of this whole year has been a sense of connection and community despite so much physical distance between us all. In response, many people have decided to focus on the gift giving love language (as opposed to quality time or physical touch) to show appreciation and affection for their loved ones.

So, what types of gifts are people giving to their friends and families? The brings us to the remaining items on our list

2. Books, Music, Movies

With a considerable amount of free time on many people’s hands these days, they have been turning to the arts as a means of escapism. Although the term “essential workers” has been thrown around a lot lately, storytelling in the form of movies, music, and books has been essential to plenty of people’s sanity through this difficult time.

Particularly the book industry, which had been notably struggling with the rise of e-books over the past decade, has seen a significant increase since March of 2020. Specifically, print book sales rose 8.2% in 2020. It would appear that now is the perfect time to pick up a book or two and settle in with some tea.

3. Camping and Outdoor Equipment 

Once the summer time rolled around and cabin fever was at a breaking point, lots of people felt the overwhelming call for the great outdoors too alluring to resist, many of them for the first time in their lives. To accommodate these newfound hobbies, things like tents, kayaks, bicycles, and other gear continue to fly off the shelves at sporting goods stores and online retailers. 

4. Home Office Supplies

With the mass exodus of office buildings in lieu of the work from home model, it quickly became apparent that this would not be a short term arrangement for many people. Subsequently, the need for ergonomically designed home office tools and furniture became vital for the health and well being of many workers hunched over a laptop at a card table for the first few weeks of quarantine.

5. Gaming Equipment and VR

Finally, many people invested their extra spending money in the ultimate form of escapism: video games. At the very top of this list was, not surprisingly, virtual reality gaming equipment.

It’s estimated that nearly 60 million people will use virtual reality this year in the US. The trend of virtual reality and augmented reality were already on the rise, but this past year has accelerated the growth.

As it turns out, not being able to physically leave your living room makes surrounding yourself in the virtual world of a video game pretty appealing…


Lots of things have changed since 2020. Spending habits have changed for a variety of reasons and that includes how people are spending their stimulus checks. It’s interesting to see the hobbies that people have discovered or rediscovered. It’s interesting to see what people want and what they give as gifts.

We’ll see how the trends continue to evolve as we head into the coming years at Giftster.

Happy gifting!

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