Harris Poll Trends Suggest Modest Increases in Consumer Spending

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – February 14, 2011 – A new Harris Poll on consumer spending and saving, using questions that have been asked eight times since the financial and economic crisis began, shows some very small increases in the number of people who say they are likely to spend their money on various big ticket and other purchases. These are consistent with several recent reports of modest increases in consumer sentiment and spending. This poll also shows a very small decrease in the numbers of people who are saving or investing more money. However all of these very small changes could be the result of sampling and other errors that can affect all surveys.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,566 adults surveyed online between January 17 and 24, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    Some of the more interesting results of this poll are:

    • The percentage of all adults who report that they are likely to save or invest more money in the next six months has dropped very slightly from 52% in surveys in 2010 to 49%, the lowest number since November 2008;
    • Those who say they will decrease their spending on eating out at restaurants have dropped very modestly from 66% last September to 63% now. There has been a similar three point drop in those who are likely to reduce spending on entertainment, from 62% in September to 59% now;
    • Those who say they are likely to take a vacation away from home lasting more than a week have increased from 31% in September to 36%;
    • Those who expect to move to another residence have increased from 17% in September to 21% now, the highest number we have recorded in the eight polls when we have asked these questions (however we do not know their reasons for any planned moves);
    • Those who expect to buy a new car, truck or van (14%) have increased from 12% last September; and
    • Those who expect to buy a boat or an RV have increased from 3% last May and 6% last September to 7%.

    So What?

    These very small changes in the public’s spending expectations could be the result of sampling and other errors than can occur in all surveys. Under other circumstances we might not be so willing to suggest that these are real changes. But, over the last two months there have been more than a few other indicators that consumer sentiment, and other leading economic indicators, are improving modestly. If that is correct, these are the kinds of small changes we would expect to find in our polls and we believe that these changes are probably real.

     

    TABLE 1

    SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER NEXT SIX MONTHS

    How likely will you be to do the following within the next 6 months?

    Base: All adults

     

    LIKELY (NET)

    Very

    likely

    Somewhat

    Likely

    NOT LIKELY (NET)

    Not that likely

    Not at all likely

    Decrease spending on eating out at restaurants

    %

    63

    29

    34

    37

    23

    14

    Reduce spending on entertainment

    %

    59

    28

    32

    41

    25

    16

    Save or invest more money

    %

    49

    17

    32

    51

    24

    27

    Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

    %

    36

    16

    20

    64

    18

    46

    Have more money to spend the way you want

    %

    30

    8

    23

    70

    30

    40

    Buy a new computer

    %

    22

    8

    14

    78

    24

    54

    Move to a different residence

    %

    21

    10

    11

    79

    13

    66

    Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

    %

    14

    5

    9

    86

    13

    74

    Start a new business

    %

    10

    5

    6

    90

    8

    82

    Purchase a house or condo

    %

    10

    5

    5

    90

    8

    82

    Buy a boat or recreational vehicle (e.g. trailer, motor home)

    %

    7

    4

    3

    93

    6

    87

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

     

    TABLE 2

    SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER NEXT SIX MONTHS – TREND

    How likely will you be to do the following within the next 6 months?

    Percent saying Very/Somewhat Likely

    Base: All adults

     

    Nov

    2008

    March

    2009

    May

    2009

    Sept

    2009

    Dec.

    2009

    May

    2010

    Sept

    2010

    Jan 2011

    Decrease spending on eating out at restaurants

    %

    65

    74

    66

    67

    62

    64

    66

    63

    Reduce spending on entertainment

    %

    64

    74

    64

    67

    58

    62

    62

    59

    Save or invest more money

    %

    49

    50

    53

    50

    53

    52

    52

    49

    Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

    %

    29

    35

    36

    28

    35

    36

    31

    36

    Have more money to spend the way you want

    %

    25

    21

    26

    25

    27

    27

    28

    30

    Buy a new computer

    %

    22

    22

    21

    19

    23

    20

    21

    22

    Move to a different residence

    %

    18

    20

    19

    14

    17

    19

    17

    21

    Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

    %

    12

    11

    12

    10

    12

    12

    12

    14

    Start a new business

    %

    9

    10

    8

    7

    7

    6

    10

    10

    Purchase a house or condo

    %

    10

    10

    9

    8

    8

    7

    10

    10

    Buy a boat or recreational vehicle (e.g. trailer, motor home)

    %

    5

    5

    5

    4

    4

    3

    6

    7

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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 17 to 24, 2011 among 2,566 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.

    J39369

    Q735

     

     

    The Harris Poll ® #20, February 14, 2011

    By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

     

    About Harris Interactive

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