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It’s one of the unfortunate ironies of the coronavirus pandemic, that prices are rising, promotions are rarer, coupons are fewer – all at a time when we need savings more than ever. Nevertheless, a new survey finds that more of us consider ourselves to be frugal shoppers now, than we were just a couple of years ago.

“More than half of Americans credit the COVID-19 pandemic with finally teaching them how to be smart with their money,” the online deals site Slickdeals announced.

Back in 2018, Slickdeals conducted a survey, in which only 42% of respondents said they felt very smart with money. A followup survey conducted in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic found that percentage has jumped to 51%, while two-thirds say the pandemic has turned them into a frugal person.

That could be partly because deals are harder to find – so you have to work harder to get them. In the early days of the pandemic, many shoppers’ tried-and-true savings strategies went out the window. As everyone stayed home and minimized their shopping trips, many shoppers prioritized getting in and out of the store as fast as possible, grabbing what they needed, no matter the price. The panic buying and resulting empty shelves had a snowball effect, as retailers and brands scaled back on coupons and promotions, since there was no point discounting items that were either out of stock, or were already selling like hotcakes.

The problem, of course, is that many people are out of work, missing paychecks, worried about their finances and don’t have the luxury of grabbing what they need, no matter the price. So they might not have considered themselves particularly frugal before, but they sure do now.

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“The coronavirus pandemic has tragically impacted the financial situations of many people, and brought new focus to the importance of prioritizing spending,” Slickdeals CEO Josh Meyers said in a statement.

Similar surveys have led to similar conclusions. A McKinsey & Company survey released earlier this month found that 40% of respondents are looking for ways to save money when shopping, more often than they were before the pandemic. A third of respondents are switching brands and changing to less expensive products, with about the same percentage saying they’re spending more time planning out their shopping trips in advance.

Many of these shoppers are focusing on the “need-to-haves” and skipping the “nice-to-haves”. “Spending on essentials remains at or above pre-COVID-19 levels, while discretionary spending is still far from pre-COVID-19 levels,” McKinsey said. “Most Americans continue to believe that the impact of the crisis on their routines and personal finances will last beyond the next four months.”

That said, not everyone is newly interested in looking for deals and saving money. Some pandemic-weary shoppers are engaging in a little retail therapy. Back in April, as we were still settling into our pandemic routines, a survey conducted by the personal finance website WalletHub found that 43% of respondents had participated in “comfort buying” while isolated at home. And the e-commerce company Radial is already looking ahead to the holidays, finding that shoppers it surveyed don’t plan significant changes to their holiday spending plans as compared to last year.

But for those who are still interested in saving money, the deals are out there. You just have to be willing to look for them. And as savvy shoppers well know – that’s what being frugal is all about.

Image source: Pixabay/gonghuimin468

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