On March 16, 2020, Governor Beshear temporarily closed schools to in-person instruction as part of a larger group of actions meant to slow the spread of the virus. This shutdown served as the impetus for a decrease in consumer spending. Ten days later, Governor Beshear issued the stay-at-home order, and all non-essential businesses closed.

The CARES Act included stimulus payments starting April 15, 2020, to households across America. For GRADD counties, a clear distinction emerged between the period before and after the stimulus payment. The region saw a 20% decrease in spending in January 2020 and then varying increases above the baseline within a week of the stimulus payment. Daviess County, at 1.9% was the lowest increase. Union County at 15.9% was the largest increase. The Coronavirus Relief Act, in December 2020, sent out a second round of stimulus payments. This round heralded a similar rise in consumer spending across the six GRADD counties that data could be found for.

The American Rescue Plan Act passed in early March 2021 included the third round of stimulus payments, which directly correlated with a continued increase in consumer spending in the six reported counties. For three counties – Hancock, Henderson, and Union – the period following the third stimulus payment brought the highest level of increased consumer spending since the beginning of this data collection.

The GRADD region followed similar trends as the whole of Kentucky with closings, reopenings, and stimulus payments. GRADD and Kentucky also recovered faster than the national average of consumer spending trends.

After the COVID-19 shutdowns, the national percent change in all consumer spending did not become positive until November 11, 2020. However, Ohio County reached that milestone early in April 2020.

Key Dates and Sources

January 20, 2020 – First US COVID Case
March 16, 2020 – KY Public Schools Closed – Governor Beshear’s Recommendation
March 26, 2020 – Stay At Home Advisory & Closing Non-Essential Businesses – EO 2020-257
April 15, 2020 – First Stimulus Payments Started – CARES Act
May 11, 2020 – Reopened Select Businesses – Governor Beshear’s Phased Reopening
July 28, 2020 – Reclosed Select Businesses – Cabinet for Health and Family Services Order
Aug 11, 2020 – Reopened Select Businesses at Reduced Capacity – Cabinet for Health and Family Services Order
Nov 20, 2020 – Closed Select Businesses – EO 2020-968
Dec 13, 2020 – Reopened Select Businesses – EO 2020-968
Jan 4, 2021 – Second Stimulus Payments Started – Consolidated Appropriations Act
March 17, 2021 – Third Stimulus Payments Started – American Rescue Plan

Consumer Spending is quantified as the average amount of money charged to both debit and credit cards. The data is seasonally adjusted and the baseline for percent comparison is based on January 4, 2020 – January 30, 2020. Unfortunately, data for McLean County was unavailable.