No Evidence of Economic Uptick in Reported Spending and Saving Behavior People over 65 less likely than younger generations to be taking some steps to economize

NEW YORK, March 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The last few months have produced some more cheerful economic news, with strong corporate profits, modest increases in consumer confidence and rising stock market indices.  However a new Harris Poll finds 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 recession ended many months ago, but the psychological impact of the financial and housing crisis is still very strong.

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,171 adults surveyed online between February 14 and 21, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

This is 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 last time these questions were asked was in October last year and the results in this 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 (61% now, 62% last October), brown bagging their lunches (45%, 45%), going to a hairdresser or barber less often (38%, 37%), switching to refillable water bottles (35%, 37%), and all of the other purchasing behaviors in the list.  Many of the numbers are identical and none of the differences are significantly significant.

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 (32% compared to 38% to 41% for Baby Boomers (aged 47-65), Gen Xers (aged 35-46), and Echo Boomers (aged 18-34)), to have cancelled or cut back cable TV (13% vs. 18% to 26% of other generational groups), cancelled landline phone services (4% vs. 13% to 24%), or cut cell phone services (6% vs. 12% to 19%).  Also they are much less likely to be brown bagging at lunch time, or car pooling, but this reflects that many of them may not be working.

So What?

The last 12 months have shown that the economy can grow modestly without a substantial increase in consumer spending.  However it is very unlikely that the rate of increase in GDP will get much faster until consumers feel more confident and open their wallets again. The evidence here suggests that economic growth will continue to be sluggish over the next few months.

TABLE 1

SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER PAST SIX MONTHS

"Have you done or considered doing any of the following over the past six months in order to save money?"

Base:  All U.S. adults


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


Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 2

SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER PAST SIX MONTHS – TREND OF HAVE DONE

"Have you done or considered doing any of the following over the past six months in order to save money?"

Percent saying "Have done"

Base:  All U.S. adults


June

2009

Oct.

2009

Feb.

2010

June

2010

Oct.

2010

Feb.

2011

Purchasing more generic brands

%

62

64

63

65

62

61

Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

%

47

47

45

48

45

45

Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

%

36

43

39

38

37

38

Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

%

33

36

34

39

37

35

Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

%

29

34

33

31

27

30

Cancelled or cut back cable television service

%

19

21

22

22

22

22

Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

%

15

20

21

22

22

21

Cut down on dry cleaning

%

20

22

22

24

21

21

Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

%

11

12

15

15

17

16

Cancelled a newspaper subscription

%

17

21

19

17

17

16

Changed or cancelled cell phone service

%

14

15

17

15

17

14

Begun carpooling or using mass transit

%

13

14

14

12

14

13


Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 3

SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER PAST SIX MONTHS – BY GENERATION

"Have you done or considered doing any of the following over

the past six months in order to save money?"

Percent saying "Have done"

Base:  All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

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


Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding



Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 14 to 21, 2011 among 3,171 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J39370

Q730

The Harris Poll® #36, March 15, 2011

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

SOURCE Harris Interactive



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