Little Change Seen in Americans’ Spending

NEW YORK , N.Y. – June 6, 2011 – Americans continue to describe the economy as bad and their reported action regarding larger purchases and non-essential spending supports this perspective. A recent Harris Poll on planned spending and saving shows that little has changed for Americans since January when these questions were last asked, and, in many cases not much has changed since late 2009, at the height of the financial crisis.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

While slightly fewer Americans say they are likely to decrease spending on eating out in restaurants in the next six months (61%) than said so in either January 2011 (63%) or September 2010 (66%), this modest bump does not seem to speak to an overall trend. Rather, Americans are equally likely now as they were in January to say they will reduce spending on entertainment (59% for both) and even with the summer approaching Americans are somewhat less likely to say they will take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week (34% now compared to 36% in January).

Additionally, while slightly greater numbers of Americans expect to save or invest more money in the next 6 months than expected to do so when asked in January (51% vs. 49%) fewer people now say that they will have more money to spend the way they want in the next 6 months (28% vs. 30%). It should be noted that this slight drop since January still represents an increase from the lower numbers saying they would have this kind of money to spend when these questions were asked throughout 2009 (between 21% and 27%).

Other findings from this poll include:

  • Fully one quarter of U.S. adults say they are likely to purchase a new computer in the next 6 months (25%)-the highest percentage that has said so in the 9 times this question has been asked since November 2008;
  • There is almost no change in those who say that they will purchase a house or condo (9% vs. 10% in January) or move to a different residence in the next six months (19% vs. 21%);
  • Similar numbers say they will buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van (14% now and in January) or buy a boat or recreational vehicle (6% now vs. 7% in January); and
  • One in ten Americans say they will start a new business in the next 6 months (10%) – a number which has held steady since September 2010.

So What?

The fact that Americans are no longer making drastic cuts in non-essential spending is a good indicator for the economy’s growth, yet Americans simultaneously do not appear to be increasing spending on large purchases. This may suggest that the economy is not yet turning around, or it may actually suggest that the economy is improving but that Americans are more cautious now, choosing to test the waters of this new fiscal environment, rather than diving in head-first.

 

 

 

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

%

61

31

30

39

24

15

Reduce spending on entertainment

%

59

29

30

41

23

18

Save or invest more money

%

51

19

32

49

22

27

Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

%

34

17

17

66

18

48

Have more money to spend the way you want

%

28

8

20

72

29

43

Buy a new computer

%

25

8

17

75

21

54

Move to a different residence

%

19

8

11

81

12

69

Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

%

14

4

10

86

13

73

Start a new business

%

10

4

5

90

8

82

Purchase a house or condo

%

9

4

4

91

8

83

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

%

6

2

3

94

6

89

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

May 2011

Decrease spending on eating out at restaurants

%

65

74

66

67

62

64

66

63

61

Reduce spending on entertainment

%

64

74

64

67

58

62

62

59

59

Save or invest more money

%

49

50

53

50

53

52

52

49

51

Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

%

29

35

36

28

35

36

31

36

34

Have more money to spend the way you want

%

25

21

26

25

27

27

28

30

28

Buy a new computer

%

22

22

21

19

23

20

21

22

25

Move to a different residence

%

18

20

19

14

17

19

17

21

19

Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

%

12

11

12

10

12

12

12

14

14

Start a new business

%

9

10

8

7

7

6

10

10

10

Purchase a house or condo

%

10

10

9

8

8

7

10

10

9

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

%

5

5

5

4

4

3

6

7

6

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

 

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 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.

J40013

Q730

 

 

The Harris Poll ® #68, June 6, 2011

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, 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.