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The variations in individual consumption change and the substitution effect under the shock of COVID‐19: Evidence from payment system data in China

Jie Xu, Ming Gao and Yina Zhang

Growth and Change, 2021, vol. 52, issue 2, 990-1010

Abstract: Over the last two decades, scholars have pointed to the significance of the impact of extreme events on consumption, a prominent part of national economies. How does the COVID‐19 epidemic influence consumption? Using high‐frequency payment system panel data, we explicitly consider the individual consumption changes and the substitution effect between online and offline markets of multiple categories by constructing autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models and conducting regression analyses. The p value and regression coefficients of the substitution elasticity are used to estimate the changes and the substitution effects from the offline to the online channels. The results show that consumption saw a remarkable decline after the surge of COVID‐19 in 2020 compared to 2019. Overall, online markets were more resilient than the offline markets and the substitution effects after the epidemic's outbreak between the online and offline markets were significant for one‐third of the consumption categories. However, the online market could not replace the offline market for some categories due to the product characteristics. The vulnerable industries in the face of the epidemic's intervention are determined as being traditional catering, transportation, tourism, and education, and the shortage of healthcare services in extreme events is also pointed out. The results provide suggestions for policies on targeted enterprises and public service.

Date: 2021
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