While the two largest merchant families (general stores and groceries) saw the biggest drops in budget share, some of the smaller merchant families saw much larger drops on a relative percentage basis.
For example, child/infant care went from 0.58 percent of spending down to 0.19 percent. It's minor in terms of total dollars overall, but within the merchant family itself it's a huge drop of 67 percent. It's bigger than the 44 percent relative drop in grocery spending, 43 percent drop at general stores and 40 percent drop on gas.
Similarly, medical services saw a relative drop of 58 percent, even though it's a tiny merchant family, less than 0.10 percent of total spending. Spending on pets saw a 45 percent drop, the same as auto services.
On the other hand, there's golf. It was resilient despite taxes getting in the way.
The budget share of golf dropped very slightly (from 0.14 to 0.11 percent in overall share). While the public is spending relatively less on food, medicine and childcare to pay their taxes, they are not cutting back on golf. In fact, the total amount of money spent on golf went up. The trend likely has to due with seasonality and people wanting to play as the weather improves, regardless of taxes.
It's the one form of entertainment that didn't see its share of spending tank. The biggest losers were concerts/theater (84 percent), amusement parks (64 percent), sporting events (59 percent), museums/parks (58 percent) and cruises (57 percent).
As winter moves to spring, people's spending patterns change in accordance. So it's not only taxes playing a role, but it certainly doesn't help.
"Retailers in those categories that historically lose the most share during tax season — entertainment, restaurant and grocery — should consider offers to bring consumers back in the doors," said Dani Cushion, chief marketing officer of Cardlytics. "For example, buy-one-get-one movie tickets or a percentage grocery discount for consumers who present their completed return."
For this study, Cardlytics looked at customers who both visited a tax preparation service and paid additional taxes in the years 2013-2015. This group totaled more than three million people. Cardlytics compared how these customers spent money in the four weeks before and the four weeks after visiting the accountant, to see how their spending would change once they learned how much tax they would have to pay.