Cagey Consumers: Economic Fears Are Causing People To Spend Less

Email teams trying to leverage positive economic signs might be in for some disappointment: most consumers are worried about the economy, and adjusting their spending accordingly, according to a study by Shopkick.

That means 2023 is getting off to a rocky start, the study notes.

Fears of recession are having an impact on the shopping habits of 83% of consumers. And 47% say they will spend less overall in the next three months. 

Only 12% anticipate spending more during that period, with 68% citing the economy as the reason for their cutbacks. Meanwhile, 43% are curbing their spending to pay off their debt and 42% are in a post-holiday buying slump. 

Overall, 97% have noticed price hikes on everyday goods during the past year.  

One big concern is rising grocery costs. Consumers are using various tactics to get around them. For instance, 49% are taking fewer trips to the store to save on gas, 31% are shopping in bulk and 29% are using in-store credit cards and 19% are buying canned foods versus fresh. 



In addition, 73% have increased their use of shopping reward apps and coupons. 

Another problem is gas prices — which went down but are climbing back up — and 91% of consumers are concerned about them. To deal with this, 75% are driving less and 83% are trying to save more money to afford gasoline.  

Despite that , consumers are shopping in-store — 78% are doing so, while 22% are shopping online. During the holidays, 71% split their shopping between in-store and online.

And they are certainly not saving on gas by sticking to local stores: only 17% now say they regularly buy at local brick-and-mortar stores, versus 65% in March 2021. Another 10% are supporting small local online businesses. 

The main goal this year is to focus on essentials like groceries, toiletries and medicine. But this is becoming difficult and 55% have noticed that items like eggs are now less available than they were a month ago. 

They are also coping by seeking sales (47%), purchasing more generic brands (21%), and using  shopping and couponing apps to find deals (18%).

“Consumers are getting mixed messages around where the economy is headed, but they continue to be extremely wary of overspending and diligent about finding ways to save,” said Brittany Billings, executive vice president of strategic markets and marketing at Shopkick.  

Billings adds: "Now more than ever, brands and retailers should prioritize finding ways to support shoppers, from offering deals and discounts to flexible shopping services to ensure consumers’ loyalty and trust for the future.” 

Shopkick, a shopping rewards app, surveyed more than 11,000 consumers from January 21-23, 2023.



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