Survey Finds Ever More People Cutting Back

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Pundits, economists and indicators may be saying the recession is on its way out, but consumers are still finding places to cut back, according to a new poll from Harris Interactive.  

According to the poll, conducted among 2,227 people between June 14 and June 21, nearly two-thirds of consumers are purchasing more generic brands to save money -- up slightly from a poll conducted in February when 63% said they were making such purchases. Americans also showed increases in brown-bagging lunch (48% vs. 45% in Feb.), switching to refillable water bottles (39% vs. 34%), and cutting down on dry cleaning (24% vs. 22%).

"Everyone's doing just a little more [saving], or are at about the same level as they were in February," Regina Corso, director of the Harris Poll, tells Marketing Daily. The economic indicators may be out there, but the American public is not feeling it yet. People are still gun-shy about spending."

Americans are also continuing to look toward other ways to decrease spending. Just about a third (31%) said they have cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions, and 17% have cancelled newspapers. Almost half of Americans have (22%) cancelled -- or are considering cancelling (22%) -- cable TV.

Fifteen percent said they have cancelled their landline telephones and are only using cell phones, and another 22% say they are considering this option. In addition, 15% said they cancelled or changed cell phone service to save money, and 17% said they have considered the option.

Corso admits that many of these cutbacks are not surprising, with habits adopted during the recession lingering on well beyond the economic hardships that caused those changes in habits. However, it will likely be another year or so before people determine whether these trends are now a "new reality," she says.

"At what point are they going to stop [cutting back]? That's what we're looking for. Is there a time when these numbers start going down?" she says. "That we don't know yet. We've only been tracking this since June of '09. We'll have to reconsider these questions."

Tags: economy, research
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1 comment about "Survey Finds Ever More People Cutting Back".
  1. Ann O'reilly from Euro RSCG Worldwide , July 23, 2010 at 10:26 a.m.

    One point that's sometimes overlooked is that people aren't just cutting back out of fear or financial stringencies, but because reducing their consumption makes them FEEL GOOD. Our New Consumer study at Euro RSCG found that half of Americans are getting satisfaction from cutting back during the downturn, and most don't intend to go back to their old shopping patters even when the economy rebounds. There are so many factors other than economics at play here. Sure, people are switching to refillable water bottles to save money, but also because of eco concerns. Same reason they're canceling paper magazine subscriptions; they can read them online or on their Kindle. Brown bagging saves money but also offers greater control over ingredients and healthfulness. So, while many of these changed behaviors may be influenced by the recession, they're not strongly tied to it and will most likely outlive it. There's more on the shift toward mindful consumption on www.thenewconsumer.com.