American Spending & Saving Trends Signal Rising Confidence

NEW YORK , N.Y. – July 2, 2014 – At 2014’s halfway point, Americans are loosening their purse strings in several key areas, backing off of several key efficiencies and cutbacks in comparison to a year ago, indicating Americans may be a bit more confident in their financial prospects for the near future. Looking further back, American financial attitudes continue to show great improvement over a few years ago.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll¨ of 2,241 U.S. adults surveyed online between June 11 and 16, 2014.

Dinner and a movie

Americans are less likely than a year ago to say that they plan on decreasing their spending on eating out at restaurants within the next six months (56%, down 6 points), along with being a bit less likely to say this than in March (down 3 points). U.S. adults are also less likely than a year ago to say they’ll reduce spending on entertainment (53%, down 6 points).

The picture isn’t entirely rosy though – for better or worse, Americans show no year-over-year change in their likelihood to say they’ll save or invest more money in the next six months (unchanged at 50%) or that they’ll have more money to spend the way they want (32%, up 1 point).

Women are more likely than men to anticipate cutting back on entertainment spending (56% vs. 50%); on the more free-spending end of the spectrum, men are more likely than women to anticipate taking a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week (40% vs. 34%).

Looking at things generationally, younger Americans are more likely to anticipate both cutting back and spending big. Echo Boomers, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are all more likely than Matures to indicate they plan both restaurant (60%, 60% and 55% vs. 45%) and entertainment (55%, 55% and 54% vs. 43%) cutbacks, while Millennials are more likely than any other generation to indicate they plan on saving or investing more money (64% vs. 45%, 46% and 37%).

On the other hand, Millennials (38%) are also more likely than Baby Boomers or Matures (29% and 28%) to indicate they expect to have more money to spend they way they want in the next six months. Additionally, Millennials and Gen Xers (15% and 12%) are more likely than Baby Boomers or Matures (6% and 2%) to anticipate buying a house or condo within that time.

Daily/monthly small ticket spending cutbacks also down vs. a year ago

When asked to look back at cutbacks they’ve instituted over the past six months to save money, fewer Americans are cutting back on common daily and monthly expenditures in comparison to a year ago.

Some key decreases in such behaviors include fewer Americans saying they’re purchasing more generic brands (56%, down 6 points) and are brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it (39%, down 5 points), along with fewer saying they’ve cancelled magazine (24%, down 5 points) or newspaper (13%, down 5 points) subscriptions and that they’ve cut down on dry cleaning (17%, down 5 points). As for making fewer trips to the hairdresser, stylist or barber, 35% of Americans indicate this sort of cutback – a decrease of 4 points from a year ago.

Women are more likely than men to say they’re purchasing more generic brands (60% vs. 52%) and that they’re going to the hairdresser, barber or stylist less often (40% vs. 29%).

Those with children in the household are more likely than those without to indicate brown bagging lunch (48% vs. 36%), cancelling landline phone service (22% and 15%), changing or cancelling cell phone service (20% vs. 15%) and that they’ve begun carpooling or using mass transit (17% vs. 9%).

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TABLE 1a

SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER NEXT SIX MONTHS

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

Base: U.S. adults

LIKELY (NET)

Very likely

Somewhat likely

NOT LIKELY (NET)

Not that likely

Not at all likely

Decrease spending on eating out at restaurants

%

56

24

32

44

25

19

Reduce spending on entertainment

%

53

21

32

47

26

21

Save or invest more money

%

50

16

34

50

23

27

Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

%

37

20

17

63

20

43

Have more money to spend the way you want

%

32

9

23

68

30

38

Buy a new computer

%

24

7

17

76

26

50

Move to a different residence

%

18

7

10

82

15

67

Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

%

17

5

12

83

15

68

Purchase a house or condo

%

10

3

6

90

11

79

Start a new business

%

7

1

6

93

9

84

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

%

5

2

3

95

7

88

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

TABLE 1b

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: U.S. adults

Nov 2008

Mar 2009

May 2009

Sept 2009

Dec 2009

May 2010

Sept 2010

Jan 2011

May 2011

Nov 2011

Nov 2012

June 2013

Sept 2013

Dec 2013

Mar 2014

June 2014

Decrease spending on eating out at restaurants

%

65

74

66

67

62

64

66

63

61

61

59

62

62

55

59

56

Reduce spending on entertainment

%

64

74

64

67

58

62

62

59

59

58

55

59

61

52

54

53

Save or invest more money

%

49

50

53

50

53

52

52

49

51

51

50

50

47

58

52

50

Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

%

29

35

36

28

35

36

31

36

34

29

29

35

27

38

39

37

Have more money to spend the way you want

%

25

21

26

25

27

27

28

30

28

26

30

31

28

38

34

32

Buy a new computer

%

22

22

21

19

23

20

21

22

25

23

24

25

25

28

23

24

Move to a different residence

%

18

20

19

14

17

19

17

21

19

14

16

22

16

18

17

18

Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

%

12

11

12

10

12

12

12

14

14

12

13

16

14

17

15

17

Purchase a house or condo

%

10

10

9

8

8

7

10

10

9

7

8

10

7

8

8

10

Start a new business

%

9

10

8

7

7

6

10

10

10

6

8

10

7

10

8

7

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

%

5

5

5

4

4

3

6

7

6

3

5

7

4

4

4

5


TABLE 1c

SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER NEXT SIX MONTHS – by Generation, Gender & Children in Household

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

Percent saying Very/Somewhat Likely

Base: U.S. adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Children in Household

Millennials (18-36)

Gen X (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Decrease spending on eating out at restaurants

56

60

60

55

45

55

58

62

54

Reduce spending on entertainment

53

55

55

54

43

50

56

57

51

Save or invest more money

50

64

45

46

37

52

49

55

49

Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

37

34

37

35

46

40

34

35

37

Have more money to spend the way you want

32

38

32

29

28

34

31

35

31

Buy a new computer

24

29

27

20

18

26

22

34

20

Move to a different residence

18

33

16

10

5

19

17

22

16

Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

17

19

20

16

10

19

15

23

14

Purchase a house or condo

10

15

12

6

2

9

10

15

8

Start a new business

7

12

9

4

7

7

11

5

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

5

9

8

2

1

5

5

11

3

indicates a response rate of <0.5%

TABLE 2a

SMALL TICKET SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER PAST SIX MONTHS – Summary Grid

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

Base: U.S. adults

Have done

Have considered

Have not done or considered

Not applicable

Purchasing more generic brands

%

56

16

24

5

Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

%

39

9

17

35

Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

%

35

10

34

21

Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

%

34

13

29

24

Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

%

24

8

29

39

Cancelled or cut back cable television service

%

22

26

39

13

Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

%

19

8

25

48

Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

%

17

18

46

19

Cut down on dry cleaning

%

17

6

22

55

Changed or cancelled cell phone service

%

16

18

54

13

Cancelled a newspaper subscription

%

13

13

32

42

Begun carpooling or using mass transit

%

12

8

37

44

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

 

TABLE 2b

SMALL TICKET SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER PAST SIX MONTHS – Have Done Trend

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

Base: U.S. adults

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

June

Oct

Feb

June

Oct

Feb

June

Dec

Nov

June

Sept

Dec

Mar

June

Purchasing more generic brands

%

62

64

63

65

62

61

67

61

57

62

62

58

59

56

Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

%

47

47

45

48

45

45

46

42

41

44

46

42

42

39

Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

%

36

43

39

38

37

38

43

37

38

39

41

34

36

35

Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

%

33

36

34

39

37

35

39

31

33

38

37

33

34

34

Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

%

29

34

33

31

27

30

31

25

27

29

28

24

27

24

Cancelled or cut back cable television service

%

19

21

22

22

22

22

22

21

21

24

27

21

23

22

Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

%

15

20

21

22

22

21

21

17

20

22

20

20

19

19

Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

%

11

12

15

15

17

16

16

14

16

20

19

18

18

17

Cut down on dry cleaning

%

20

22

22

24

21

21

24

19

18

22

20

15

18

17

Changed or cancelled cell phone service

%

14

15

17

15

17

14

14

14

14

17

16

15

16

16

Cancelled a newspaper subscription

%

17

21

19

17

17

16

18

15

16

18

15

15

17

13

Begun carpooling or using mass transit

%

13

14

14

12

14

13

14

13

14

15

14

13

12

12

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

TABLE 2c

SMALL TICKET SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER PAST SIX MONTHS – by Generation, Gender & Children in Household

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

Gender

Children in Household

Millennials (18-36)

Gen X (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Purchasing more generic brands

56

59

58

56

44

52

60

60

54

Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

39

49

51

33

10

40

39

48

36

Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

35

38

38

34

25

29

40

39

33

Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

34

40

36

31

27

32

36

35

34

Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

24

19

24

30

23

23

26

24

24

Cancelled or cut back cable television service

22

22

26

22

15

20

23

25

20

Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

19

24

25

13

9

20

17

22

17

Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

17

24

19

14

5

17

17

22

15

Cut down on dry cleaning

17

16

16

18

14

17

16

17

16

Changed or cancelled cell phone service

16

23

17

13

5

15

17

20

15

Cancelled a newspaper subscription

13

12

14

15

9

14

12

14

13

Begun carpooling or using mass transit

12

19

12

8

3

11

12

17

9

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 11 and 16, 2014 among 2,241 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, The Harris Poll 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 Poll 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 our 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 The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll¨ #63, July 2, 2014

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Manager, Harris Poll Content

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

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