The Current: Tracking Growing Financial Anxiety

October, 2023

About the report

Since July 2020, Horizon Media‚Äôs WHY Group has kept a monthly pulse on how people are feeling and engaging amid economic and political turmoil, COVID-19, social injustice, and beyond.

This report examines three distinct periods: August 2021, a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic; July 2022, a heightened inflationary period; and July 2023, the current period. It delves into the emotions, prevalent issues, and spending habits of individuals during these pivotal times, offering a look into how these key macro health and economic periods and circumstances have impacted people’s emotions and influenced their behavior.


A year after reaching peak inflation levels nationwide, financial concerns continue to take center stage.

Today, financial concerns persist at a level of worry akin to that experienced during peak levels of inflation last summer. The prominence of COVID, which was once the primary concern, has diminished in people’s minds over time. The decreased attention to pandemic-related issues, combined with a period of stringent financial restrictions, has created an environment where personal freedoms, inclusive of civil liberties, have ascended to the second spot in terms of perceived importance alongside healthcare.

Yet amid feelings of anxiety and financial uncertainty, people are pressing forward with ambitious spending plans

Despite a backdrop of financial unease, the public still plans to spend more across several categories including food and travel, even if it dips into their pandemic savings. Though spending plans are intact, people are not necessarily feeling confident financially, signaling to brands the need to make people feel more comfortable about opening their wallets during a time when they are feeling apprehensive.

To read the full report, click ‘Download PDF’ below.

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