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Coronavirus Survey: 43% Of Americans Admit To 'Comfort Buying' While Social Distancing

(CBS Local) -- About 58 million Americans are spending more money while social distancing, according to a new survey by WalletHub.

The personal finance website says it conducted a survey from April 13 to April 17 to see how the shopping habits of millions of Americans have evolved during this time of crisis.

"58 million Americans are actually spending more money while social distancing, despite being able to go out less, in large part because many people are participating in 'comfort buying' or shopping as a way to relieve stress and boredom," WalletHub wrote in its report published Wednesday.

Many people are shopping to ease stress, according to the survey, which found 43 percent of Americans have participated in "comfort buying" due to social isolation.

"As consumers, we are reprioritizing our needs and shifting buying patterns from purchasing transportation, vacations, and dining in restaurants to more social media, more streaming entertainment, and more food from grocery stores," said Joyce Shotick, PhD, an associate professor at Judson University.

"These substitutes give us the impression that we are spending more, but in reality, we are spending more on certain items because we do not have to buy others," she added.

"Comfort buying" does come with some stress, however. 57 percent said they are concerned about package safety. And 60 percent are also concerned about the safety of having food delivered during the pandemic.

The survey also found that people are using entertainment and drinking to take the edge off. Americans are said to be spending the most "non-essential" money on entertainment (29 percent) and alcohol (23 percent). That's followed by clothing, beauty products, electronics, toys and exercise equipment.

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