Minimalism was a trend long before the pandemic hit. But could a decluttered, less crowded approach to life take on a different meaning in 2021? CivicScience asked more than 3,000 U.S. adults about their experience with minimalism to better understand current interest. 

As the data show, interest in minimalism has seen a slight decrease since last year.

As it stands, current minimalists are just 11% of U.S. adults, while intenders are 26%.

Portrait of a Minimalist in 2021

Women are more keen on the lifestyle than men, with respondents between 35 and 54 reporting  the most interest in living a minimalist lifestyle, while lower-income earners and adults under the age of 35 are the most likely to currently consider themselves minimalists. 

Although interest in minimalism may have seen an overall decline, 52% of adults have done a big purge of items in the last year, with more than one-quarter planning to do so. 

The data indicate that 39% of U.S. adults will do one of these clear-outs a few times a year, and a similar percentage will do so once a year or less.

Looking at the data by income we see that lower-income households purge less often and are the least likely to have done a purge within the last year.

The ongoing pandemic, with its stockpiling, supply chain uncertainty, and financial instability has also had an impact on people’s attraction to minimalism. 

As the data indicate, those who are most concerned about being in public spaces and most concerned about the spread of the virus show the greatest intent to become minimalists. Perhaps having less in general – whether as a choice or because of financial limitations – leaves people feeling minimalistic.

In fact, a desire to stay out of public spaces is not the only factor at play. As it turns out, those who are not working and not getting paid are the most likely to consider themselves minimalists. Meanwhile, those who are working reduced hours are the most interested in giving minimalism a try. 

In a similar vein, those who are spending less now as a result of the pandemic are the most likely to think of themselves as minimalists, while those who consider themselves to be worse off financially are the most interested in trying minimalism for themselves. 

While minimalism is often a lifestyle choice, the data suggest that the experience of scarcity, or anticipation of it, naturally pushes consumers into a minimalist mindset. 

Although minimalism has seen a general decline in the last year, there are those who increasingly express interest in a lifestyle of less. Concerns over safety as well as a lack of access to resources are two of the largest factors inspiring U.S. adults to take a more minimal approach to their lives. So what once was on-trend may now have become a necessity for those most impacted–emotionally and materially–by the pandemic.