The Indicator from Planet Money - 5 (More) Ways Life Has Changed

From smoking more cigarettes to stocking up on meatless meats, the pandemic has changed consumer behavior in some unexpected ways.

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NPR

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heroin station Cardiff here. This is the indicator from Planet Money. The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things about our lives in some pretty obvious ways changes that you probably heard all about things. Like, you know, people are spending more time at home last time at the office people are eating out less spending more money on groceries, but there are also some ways the pandemic is changed behavior that are less obvious and maybe less expected even a little bit quirky and specifically consumer Behavior what people are spending their money on and that's what today shows all about 5 non-obvious ways that the pandemic has changed spending habits. Also Cardiff and I share which of these changes apply to us and which town and also live Cardiff keeps eating more bacon and smoking 10 cigarettes. Hey, that's not that's not a hundred percent right? It's like 70% right?

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Okay, so let's jump right into it here is non-obvious change. Number one people seem to be smoking more buying more cigarettes. The company Altria makes the Marlboro brand of cigarettes and according to that Company CEO. The reason people are smoking more in the pandemic is probably did so many social events just aren't taking place anymore. So people are more alone and they're using some of that alone time to smoke and you know sales of cigarettes have been falling for years. And before the pandemic Altria had expected that sales would fall this year by 46% but now the company expects sales to fall only by 2 to 4% because enough people have taken up smoking again to offset some of that decline Stacy. I'm a little bit ashamed to say that one of those people is me actually really haven't taken up smoking again, but I have sparked up a few more times in the last few months than I otherwise would have that is a dangerous dance Cardiff Garcia. I haven't even

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Chicken a dragon like more than 10 years since I quit not one. Well done. Thank you, but you do what you got to do.

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Okay, non-obvious change. Number two people are buying a lot more used cars now to be clear over all people are driving less because of the pandemic there's less commuting and also people are buying fewer new cars but used car sales are actually going up and up and up. The research company Edmunds says all this time and actually increased the average price of used cars and trucks by more than $700 in the month of July these vehicles now cost about $21,500 and the researchers Edmund said that increase in price is quote in unprecedented historical shift in the used vehicle Market because used vehicles normally go down in price over time. This doesn't happen. Yeah. It's like the classic depreciating item that it's supposed to go down over time and that has at least temporarily been reversed until the question is why have people shifted to used car so much recently and there's a few possible reasons one reason is that there are fewer new.

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Cars available to buy now than they otherwise would have been because production has been limited by the pandemic some Auto factories have been shut down for at least a little bit of time. But of course the economy itself is still in a rough place in two people are looking to get good deals. And even though used cars have gone up in price. They are still cheaper than a new car. So those are a couple of the possible reasons 3.

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camping

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Scars by the way up people are buying a lot more equipment camping equipment for outdoor activities, maybe even reversing a long-term Trend according to a survey from before the pandemic by the outdoor industry Association people were doing fewer outdoor activities than they were a decade ago survey found that fewer than one out of every five people quote Recreation outside at least once a week on quotes. Abysmally low actually is low. No more as the New York Times recently reported since the pandemic started there have been shortages of things like outdoor survival gear freeze dried food backup power supplies and a different times there have also been Russia's to buy things like Bait and Tackle to go fishing outdoor pools and kayaks and it one point hammocks also suggests that like some of this quote-unquote camping is going on in people's backyard which by the way is my kind of camping camping.

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Side with no mosquitoes a nice hot shower and a bed to crawl back into it and I like good backwards experience. I will say I am a I am a fan of but I've not been camping since the pandemic because I do not have a car. Maybe maybe I know if you contribute to two of these trends at the same time. If you want, I could take over the even three not obvious change number for is another one that you and I Stacy have talked about a few times which is it a lot of people are paying a hefty amount now for their monthly Energy bill like spending more time at home. And so they've got their air conditioning units cranking at all hours instead of turning them off like when people go to work or go to school. Yes, and also, you know, our lights are on all day. We're using power sources for computers all day and it adds up according to clean energy company Arcadia the typical energy bill for people living in cities.

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Will be about 10% higher this summer than in a typical summer in Philadelphia and New York. The bills could be 15% higher, which is great because we both live in New York. So I was standing at least 15% Higher by the way way way higher than that actually looked up one of my yeah. Mine is more than double by the way, and also it's just goes to show that there's another way that companies are kind of saving on not having people in their offices for the people that can work from home cuz like now we're absorbing the cost of that instead of turning off our air conditioning going to the office and using the offices AC. So this is his kind of kind of a thing to do for people to keep in mind, you know, something is working from home expense for sure. I wonder if we can start getting companies to pay for part of our energy Belles filles Fair. I mean, I'm just saying I just throwing things out there not obvious change number 5

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Fake meat member card if we did a piece on fake meat and how popular is getting like the Beyond Burger things like that. So people are buying more fake meat products beyond meat which makes meatless burgers and other meatless products got a ton of press last year. They said that seals of those products in grocery stores tripled in the second quarter of this year tripled went up that is a massive jump and a big part of the reason is that prices of real Meats like beef and deal are still way higher than they were before the pandemic and of course, that's because producing those real Meats has been tough during the pandemic like for example, there's been a lot of Coca. Breaks in Meatpacking plants as we've also covered on the show. The higher prices of real meat has made switching to meatless options more appealing and also, I mean, I've been cooking at home way more than I ever have in my whole life and I'm also just looking for variety a little bit. I mean for a while, I just ate I ate so much bacon. I was eating bacon like three times.

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And then I had to calm down with the bacon. And also I got sick of I haven't I can't even eat bacon anymore. I had too much bacon. So I also feel like there's like kind of a desire for for variety. Yeah. I have heard of this mythical point at which somebody can actually get diminishing enjoyment out of bacon. I've never reached it myself. I've never I've tried and I've never been impressed that you got them trained hard enough card. If you'll get there. I can show you the way that's it five non-obvious ways that consumer spending behavior in and then our lives have changed. We will include a lot of links to the research that resided in this piece in the show. No to NPR. Org money. This episode of the indicator was produced by James Snead and fact check by Britney Cronin. The indicator is edited by Patty Hearst and it is a production of NPR.
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