The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Consumption: Learning from High Frequency Transaction Data
We use daily transaction data in 214 cities to study the impact of COVID-19 on consumption after China’s outbreak in late January 2020. Based on difference-in-differences estimation, daily offline consumption—via bank card and mobile QR code transactions—fell by 32%, or 18.57 million RMB per city, during the twelve-week period. The effect is prevalent across cities and is more pronounced in the dining & entertainment and travel categories. Daily consumption responded negatively to the day-to-day changes in epidemic severity. Consumption had rebounded back to the baseline level by the end of March but dropped to -20% in early April due to the elevated risk of a second wave of infections. We infer that China’s offline consumption decreased by over 1.22 trillion RMB in the three-month post-outbreak period, or 1.2% of China’s 2019 GDP. Our estimates also suggest a significant economic benefit of containing the virus through a milder consumption decrease and a faster consumption recovery.
文强，西南财经大学经济学博士，新加坡国立大学公派联合培养博士，厦门大学应用经济学博士后，现任四川大学商学院助理研究员。研究领域涉及实证金融、环境经济学等，研究成果见诸于China Economic Review，International Review of Economics & Finance，《经济学(季刊)》、《经济评论》等国内外期刊杂志。