Stanford University


When Weeks Become Decades: Digitization of Consumption



Has COVID-19 led to persistent changes in the role of the internet in American consumption patterns? This paper looks at the change in consumption of digital goods and channel of purchase (digitally enabled goods) from the coronavirus. We show the velocity of change in consumption of various channels in response to COVID, increased purchasing through digitally enabled channels (app or website) as well as persistence of those changes. While there has been a rapid change in purchasing habits, there has been an equally significant snapback that is heterogeneous across consumption categories and the persistent effects of COVID-19 are most evident in digital goods such as movie and music streaming and gaming. We provide some suggestive evidence on the role of substitution and adoption patterns play in these trends.

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Stanford University