Consumer Spending And Saving Still Stagnant

The last few months have produced some cheerful economic news, with strong corporate profits, modest increases in consumer confidence and rising stock market indices.

The results, though, of The Harris Poll of adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive, finds almost no change in the steps that people are taking to save money and reduce their spending. Many people continue to economize, and there is no evidence of consumers' spending behavior being more relaxed. The psychological impact of the financial and housing crisis is still very strong.

In the sixth Harris Poll since 2009 to ask about twelve steps that some consumers are taking to save money and avoid spending too much, the results in the new survey are virtually identical to those from six months ago. For example almost the same proportions of adults report that they are purchasing more generic brands, brown bagging their lunches, going to a hairdresser or barber less often, switching to refillable water bottles, and more.

The survey does find substantial differences, however, between the behaviors of people over 65 and all the younger generations. Matures are less likely to be going to a hairdresser or barber less often compared to Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Echo Boomers, or to have cancelled or cut back cable TV, cancelled landline phone services, or cut cell phone services vs. other generational groups.

Spending/Savings Over Past Six Months (Percent of All U.S. adults)

Spending or Saving

Have done

Have considered

Have not done or considered

Not applicable

Purchasing more generic brands

61%

11%

20%

9%

Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

45

6

14

35

Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

38

7

29

25

Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

35

9

23

33

Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

30

6

23

41

Cancelled or cut back cable television service

22

20

40

18

Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

21

4

18

56

Cut down on dry cleaning

21

3

16

60

Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

16

19

41

23

Cancelled a newspaper subscription

16

9

29

46

Changed or cancelled cell phone service

14

15

55

16

Begun carpooling or using mass transit

13

8

33

46

Source: Harris Poll, March 2011

 

Considered Spending/Savings Over Past Six Months - By Generation (% of Group; Base:  All U.S. adults)

 

 

Generation

Consideration

Total

Echo Boomers(18-34)

Gen. X(35-46)

Baby Boomers(47-65)

Matures(66+)

Purchasing more generic brands

61%

61%

65%

59%

61%

Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

45

52

51

48

14

Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

38

38

41

40

32

Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

35

40

36

33

28

Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

30

24

23

34

42

Cancelled or cut back cable television service

22

26

18

22

13

Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

21

25

20

21

12

Cut down on dry cleaning

21

18

13

24

23

Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

16

24

19

13

4

Cancelled a newspaper subscription

16

15

16

17

15

Changed or cancelled cell phone service

14

19

16

12

6

Begun carpooling or using mass transit

13

19

14

11

5

Source: Harris Poll, March 2011

Though the last 12 months have shown that the economy can grow modestly without a substantial increase in consumer spending, says the report, it is very unlikely that the rate of increase in GDP will get much faster until consumers feel more confident. The evidence suggests that economic growth will continue to be sluggish over the next few months, concludes the report.

For additional information about the Harris Poll, please visit here.

  

  

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