Fewer Americans Now Acknowledge Small Changes To Save Money Than Said So 6 Months Ago

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – January 12, 2011 – Over the past several years the dialogue and rhetoric within the news as well as in private conversations has revolved around the economy, household financial strain and ways to spend smarter and save more money. This month, for almost the first time since 2009, Americans indicate less frequently that they are making certain small changes to save money.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,237 adults surveyed online between December 5 and 12, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    When asked about a list of 12 changes people could make to save money, fewer Americans say they have done each over the past six months than said so almost each time the questions have been asked since 2009. Fairly high numbers still report making most changes, but the overall trend appears to be inching downward. Some of the results include:

    • 61% of U.S. adults say they have been purchasing more generic brands over the past six months which is down from the 67% who said so in June 2011;
    • Two in five (42%) now say they are brown bagging lunch, which is a drop from the 45%-48% who reported this each time the question has been asked since June 2009;
    • Americans also report switching to refillable water bottles rather than purchasing bottles of water (31%) and stopping purchasing coffee in the morning (17%) at the lowest levels seen since October 2009;
    • In terms of media consumption, the fewest number of Americans now report cancelling one or more magazine subscriptions (25%), cancelling or cutting back on cable television service (21%) and cancelling a newspaper subscription (15%) in 26 months – since October 2009;
    • While fewer Americans overall are, or have been, cancelling or changing their phone service (landline or mobile) to save money, some are-14% for both landline cancelling and cell phone changing or cancelling-which is equal to or lower than the lowest percentages seen since early 2010;
    • Over a third of Americans are still cutting back on going to the hairdresser, barber or stylist (37%) and one in five are cutting down on their dry cleaning (19%). Both numbers are similar or lower than the numbers reported over the last two years; and
    • Only 13% now report carpooling or using mass transit, which is similar to the numbers of people who have said so before, however this number is less telling as in suburban or rural areas these may not be viable options.

    So What?

    These results may indicate one of two things-either, Americans have made many of these changes previously, so the numbers are dropping as these items are no longer seen as new changes, but rather the norm, or Americans are actually starting to spend money in some of these areas again. A recent Harris Poll on economic predictions for the New Year seems to support the latter theory, as fewer Americans report plans to cut back their household spending in 2012, then said so in years prior. While an increase in household spending and spending on the everyday items explored above would be good for the economy, the U.S. economic woes are unfortunately much more complicated and may require political action as well, if a full-scale recovery is to be achieved.

     

    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

    12

    18

    8

    Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

    %

    42

    6

    13

    39

    Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

    %

    37

    6

    29

    28

    Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

    %

    31

    10

    25

    33

    Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

    %

    25

    7

    25

    43

    Cancelled or cut back cable television service

    %

    21

    22

    37

    20

    Cut down on dry cleaning

    %

    19

    3

    15

    63

    Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

    %

    17

    5

    17

    61

    Cancelled a newspaper subscription

    %

    15

    8

    30

    47

    Changed or cancelled cell phone service

    %

    14

    15

    51

    20

    Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

    %

    14

    18

    41

    27

    Begun carpooling or using mass transit

    %

    13

    6

    28

    53

    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

    2009

    2010

    2011

    June

    Oct

    Feb

    June

    Oct

    Feb

    June

    Dec

    Purchasing more generic brands

    %

    62

    64

    63

    65

    62

    61

    67

    61

    Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

    %

    47

    47

    45

    48

    45

    45

    46

    42

    Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

    %

    36

    43

    39

    38

    37

    38

    43

    37

    Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

    %

    33

    36

    34

    39

    37

    35

    39

    31

    Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

    %

    29

    34

    33

    31

    27

    30

    31

    25

    Cancelled or cut back cable television service

    %

    19

    21

    22

    22

    22

    22

    22

    21

    Cut down on dry cleaning

    %

    20

    22

    22

    24

    21

    21

    24

    19

    Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

    %

    15

    20

    21

    22

    22

    21

    21

    17

    Cancelled a newspaper subscription

    %

    17

    21

    19

    17

    17

    16

    18

    15

    Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

    %

    11

    12

    15

    15

    17

    16

    16

    14

    Changed or cancelled cell phone service

    %

    14

    15

    17

    15

    17

    14

    14

    14

    Begun carpooling or using mass transit

    %

    13

    14

    14

    12

    14

    13

    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

    60

    63

    62

    58

    Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

    42

    46

    56

    43

    15

    Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

    37

    38

    37

    40

    31

    Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

    31

    35

    34

    30

    26

    Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

    25

    17

    25

    30

    30

    Cancelled or cut back cable television service

    21

    18

    27

    22

    15

    Cut down on dry cleaning

    19

    12

    21

    24

    19

    Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

    17

    18

    22

    16

    8

    Cancelled a newspaper subscription

    15

    12

    16

    18

    16

    Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

    14

    19

    17

    12

    8

    Changed or cancelled cell phone service

    14

    15

    17

    14

    8

    Begun carpooling or using mass transit

    13

    22

    13

    9

    4

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

     

     

     

     

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 5 and 12, 2011 among 2,237 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.

    J40990

    Q735

     

     

    The Harris Poll® #5, January 12, 2012

    By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher, Harris Interactive

    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 and European 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.