Number of the Day Shows Surprising Impact of Face Masks

Our take on the most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance today

Number of the Day

That’s how many percentage points consumer spending increases when facial mask mandates are implemented at businesses, according to a new study.

Not only do consumers want to see employees wearing masks in order to feel safe, but mask mandates tend to reduce social distancing (perhaps due to a feeling of safety,) which magnifies the positive effect on spending, a study released this month by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis showed. Non-essential businesses in sectors such as clothing, arts, and recreation benefit the most from mask mandates, the study said.

“Mask policies are strongly pro-business,” the researchers wrote. Their analysis assessed a variety of data sources, including cellphone GPS location information, credit and debit card purchases, county-level facial mask mandate information, and Census data, among others.


Consumer spending helped drive a record 33.1% expansion in third-quarter GDP after pandemic lockdowns in the second quarter fueled a staggering contraction.

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  1. Washington University in St. Louis. "The Impact of Social Distancing and Masking on COVID-19 Spread and Consumer Spending." Accessed Nov. 10, 2020.

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