Consumers’ Mobility, Expenditure and Online-Offline Substitution Response to COVID-19: Evidence from French Transaction Data

This paper investigates a number of general phenomena connected with consumer behaviour in response to a severe economic shock, using billions of French card transactions measured before and during the COVID-19 epidemic. We examine changes in consumer mobility, anticipatory behaviour in response to announced restrictions, and the contrasts between the responses of online and traditional point-of-sale (offline) consumption expenditures to the shock. We track hourly, daily and weekly responses as well as estimating an aggregate fixed-period impact effect via a difference in-difference estimator. The results, particularly at the sectoral level, suggest that recourse to the online shopping option diminished somewhat the overall impact of the shock on consumption expenditure, thereby increasing resiliency of the economy.

[ - ]
[ + ]