What Are Consumers Finding Expendable?

Beyond an online connection and a way to access it from the palm of their hands, consumers are proving to be a relatively agnostic bunch. Hyperinformed, price-savvy, and emboldened by a post-recessionary survivor attitude, consumers assert that things like a new pair of jeans, dining in upscale restaurants, and buying high-end cosmetics or a luxury handbag are expendable.

Much like their grandparents or great-grandparents, many of whose attitudes to shopping were shaped by the Great Depression, the spending behaviors of today’s shoppers are lia­ble to be clouded by the recent Great Recession for some time. Still, even though they consider many products to be expend­able, they have no problem spending on the latest smartphone or on-demand video streaming. Therein lies the rub.

The good news is that the economy has been bouncing back—recent Wall Street hysteria over China and volatile oil prices notwithstanding. Although financial experts don’t think consumers will revert to their spendthrift ways, the latest installment of “Expendables vs. Untouchables” research, compiled by Prosper Insights and Analytics exclusively for STORES, shows clear signs of consumer spending optimism. See Tables 1 and 2.

Among the indicators: In 2009 (the first time STORES reported on this research), fitness and gym memberships were on the chopping block, with 86 percent of respondents citing them as expendable. In 2015, that figure slipped to 79 percent—72 percent among the 18- to 34-year-old cohort. In 2013, 73 percent of adults age 18 and older said that they planned to forego vacations; in 2015, that figure fell to 66 percent.

Shopping rebounded a bit as well. When consumers were asked how the current state of the U.S. economy has affected household spending plans, 40 percent indicated that they planned to spend less overall; 23 percent said they would be dining out less frequently. In 2014, 45 percent that they planned to spend less overall and 28 percent expected to dine out less often—notable shifts in shopper attitudes. When asked to describe their feelings about the chances for a strong econ­omy during the next 6 months, 46 percent of adults age 18 and older said they were either confident or very confident. See Table 3.

The data, which reflect the feedback of nearly 7,000 consumers across the country, are part of the December 2015 Monthly Consumer Survey taken by Prosper during the first 2 weeks of the month.

Source: Barry Berman, Joel R Evans, Patrali Chatterjee (2017), Retail Management: A Strategic Approach, Pearson; 13th edition.

2 thoughts on “What Are Consumers Finding Expendable?

  1. zoritoler imol says:

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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