Small and Big Ticket Indicators Point to Economic Doubts

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – October 8, 2013 – Much has been written and said in recent days about government budgeting and spending, with eyes constantly on the national economy. But what of household spending? Decisions on spending and saving made at the personal level, both large and small, can provide a strong barometric read as to not only individual or household income and expectations, but of Americans’ attitudes and expectations toward the national economy.

    Currently, majorities of Americans continue (as seen in June) to say that they are likely to decrease spending on eating out at restaurants (62%, even with June) and reduce spending on entertainment (61%, up from 59%) in the next six months. Additionally, majorities of Americans are pessimistic as to the likelihood that they will save or invest more money in the next six months (with 53% saying this is not likely) or have more money to spend the way they want (72%).

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,577 adults surveyed online between September 18 and 24, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

    Some telling drops (vs. June) in big ticket spending plans for the next six months include:

    • Save or invest more money (with likely ratings dropping from 50% to 47% – the lowest level since this series began in November of 2008)
    • Have more money to spend the way you want (28%, down from 31%)
    • Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week (dropping from 35% to 27% – the lowest level on record)

    Men appear to be more optimistic than women about their financial prospects for the next six months:

    • Women are more likely than men to say that they will reduce spending on entertainment in the next six months (64% and 57%, respectively)
    • Men, meanwhile, show stronger levels of confidence that the next six months will find them…
      • Saving or investing more money (51% men, 44% women)
      • Having more money to spend the way they want (32% men, 24% women)
      • Buying or leasing a newly manufactured car, truck or van (17% men, 11% women)
      • Buying a boat or recreational vehicle (6% men, 3% women)

    Small changes for small ticket savings

    The majority of Americans say they have begun purchasing more generic brands over the past six months in order to save money (62%, identical to June findings), with an additional 15% saying they have considered doing so. Additionally, nearly half indicate having brown bagged their lunches instead of purchasing them (46%) and roughly four in ten indicate going to the hairdresser, barber or stylist less often (41%) and switching to a refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water (37%)

    Some behaviors have seen modest growth since June; these include:

    • Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it (up from 44% to 46% – the highest level recorded since June 2011, when it was also 46%)
    • Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often (up from 39% to 41% – again the highest since June 2011, when it was at 43%)
    • Cancelled or cut back cable services (up from 24% to 27% and currently at its highest level on record)

    Other cost-saving behaviors have dropped since June, though in many cases these drops amount to a single percentage points. More noteworthy, though still modest, drops include:

    • Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning (20%, down from 22% in June)
    • Cut down on dry cleaning (also down from 22% in June to 20% currently)
    • Cancelled a newspaper subscription (15%, down from 18% in June)

    Women are more likely to have made several small ticket spending cuts within the past six months:

    • Purchasing more generic brands (67% women, 56% men)
    • Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it (49% women, 42% men)
    • Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often (46% women, 35% men)
    • Switched to a refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water (40% women, 33% men)
    • Cancelled or cut back cable television services (31% women, 23% men)

    For their part, men (17%) are more likely than women (12%) to have begun carpooling or using mass transit.

    The parental paradox

    Americans with children under 18 are significantly more likely than those without to have done nearly every one of the tested small ticket savings activities, yet also show a stronger likelihood than those without kids under 18 to make several of the tested big ticket purchases in the next six months:

    • Buy a new computer (36% among those with children under 18, 22% among those without)
    • Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van (24% and 11%, respectively)
    • Purchase a house or condo (12% and 5%, respectively)
    • Buy a boat or recreational vehicle (10% and 2%, respectively)

    While a direct, causal link between the saving and spending activities can’t be confirmed, it stands to reason that the former cutbacks may be intended to help subsidize the latter expenditures.

    To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

    Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!


    TABLE 1

    SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER NEXT SIX MONTHS

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

    Base: All 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

    %

    62

    27

    35

    38

    23

    15

    Reduce spending on entertainment

    %

    61

    27

    34

    39

    23

    16

    Save or invest more money

    %

    47

    16

    31

    53

    23

    30

    Have more money to spend the way you want

    %

    28

    6

    22

    72

    31

    42

    Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

    %

    27

    10

    17

    73

    22

    51

    Buy a new computer

    %

    25

    6

    19

    75

    24

    50

    Move to a different residence

    %

    16

    6

    10

    84

    14

    70

    Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

    %

    14

    4

    10

    86

    14

    72

    Start a new business

    %

    7

    2

    5

    93

    11

    82

    Purchase a house or condo

    %

    7

    2

    5

    93

    10

    83

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

    %

    4

    1

    3

    96

    7

    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 U.S. adults

     

    Nov 2008

    March 2009

    May 2009

    Sept 2009

    Dec 2009

    May 2010

    Sept 2010

    Jan 2011

    May 2011

    Nov 2011

    Nov 2012

    June 2013

    Sept 2013

    Decrease spending on eating out at restaurants

    %

    65

    74

    66

    67

    62

    64

    66

    63

    61

    61

    59

    62

    62

    Reduce spending on entertainment

    %

    64

    74

    64

    67

    58

    62

    62

    59

    59

    58

    55

    59

    61

    Save or invest more money

    %

    49

    50

    53

    50

    53

    52

    52

    49

    51

    51

    50

    50

    47

    Have more money to spend the way you want

    %

    25

    21

    26

    25

    27

    27

    28

    30

    28

    26

    30

    31

    28

    Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

    %

    29

    35

    36

    28

    35

    36

    31

    36

    34

    29

    29

    35

    27

    Buy a new computer

    %

    22

    22

    21

    19

    23

    20

    21

    22

    25

    23

    24

    25

    25

    Move to a different residence

    %

    18

    20

    19

    14

    17

    19

    17

    21

    19

    14

    16

    22

    16

    Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

    %

    12

    11

    12

    10

    12

    12

    12

    14

    14

    12

    13

    16

    14

    Start a new business

    %

    9

    10

    8

    7

    7

    6

    10

    10

    10

    6

    8

    10

    7

    Purchase a house or condo

    %

    10

    10

    9

    8

    8

    7

    10

    10

    9

    7

    8

    10

    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

     

    TABLE 3

    SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER NEXT SIX MONTHS – By Gender, Parents of Children <18, Metro Status

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

    Percent saying Very/Somewhat Likely

    Base: All U.S. adults

    Total

    Gender

    Parents of Children <18

    Metro Status

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    Urban

    Suburban

    Rural

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Decrease spending on eating out at restaurants

    62

    59

    64

    70

    60

    63

    58

    69

    Reduce spending on entertainment

    61

    57

    64

    64

    60

    61

    59

    65

    Save or invest more money

    47

    51

    44

    49

    47

    52

    47

    43

    Have more money to spend the way you want

    28

    32

    24

    32

    27

    37

    28

    19

    Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week

    27

    30

    25

    27

    27

    28

    31

    19

    Buy a new computer

    25

    26

    25

    36

    22

    30

    25

    22

    Move to a different residence

    16

    15

    18

    22

    15

    24

    15

    12

    Buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van

    14

    17

    11

    24

    11

    19

    13

    12

    Start a new business

    7

    9

    6

    14

    5

    8

    7

    8

    Purchase a house or condo

    7

    8

    6

    12

    5

    8

    7

    5

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

    4

    6

    3

    10

    2

    4

    4

    5

     

    TABLE 4

    SMALL TICKET 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

    %

    62

    15

    19

    4

    Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

    %

    46

    8

    16

    31

    Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

    %

    41

    9

    28

    22

    Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

    %

    37

    12

    25

    26

    Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

    %

    28

    8

    24

    40

    Cancelled or cut back cable television service

    %

    27

    24

    36

    14

    Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

    %

    20

    8

    23

    49

    Cut down on dry cleaning

    %

    20

    5

    18

    57

    Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

    %

    19

    20

    39

    22

    Changed or cancelled cell phone service

    %

    16

    19

    51

    14

    Cancelled a newspaper subscription

    %

    15

    11

    29

    45

    Begun carpooling or using mass transit

    %

    14

    9

    33

    44

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

     

    TABLE 5

    SMALL TICKET 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

    2012

    2013

    June

    Oct

    Feb

    June

    Oct

    Feb

    June

    Dec

    Nov

    June

    Sept

    Purchasing more generic brands

    %

    62

    64

    63

    65

    62

    61

    67

    61

    57

    62

    62

    Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

    %

    47

    47

    45

    48

    45

    45

    46

    42

    41

    44

    46

    Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

    %

    36

    43

    39

    38

    37

    38

    43

    37

    38

    39

    41

    Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

    %

    33

    36

    34

    39

    37

    35

    39

    31

    33

    38

    37

    Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

    %

    29

    34

    33

    31

    27

    30

    31

    25

    27

    29

    28

    Cancelled or cut back cable television service

    %

    19

    21

    22

    22

    22

    22

    22

    21

    21

    24

    27

    Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

    %

    15

    20

    21

    22

    22

    21

    21

    17

    20

    22

    20

    Cut down on dry cleaning

    %

    20

    22

    22

    24

    21

    21

    24

    19

    18

    22

    20

    Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

    %

    11

    12

    15

    15

    17

    16

    16

    14

    16

    20

    19

    Changed or cancelled cell phone service

    %

    14

    15

    17

    15

    17

    14

    14

    14

    14

    17

    16

    Cancelled a newspaper subscription

    %

    17

    21

    19

    17

    17

    16

    18

    15

    16

    18

    15

    Begun carpooling or using mass transit

    %

    13

    14

    14

    12

    14

    13

    14

    13

    14

    15

    14

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


    TABLE 6

    SMALL TICKET SPENDING/SAVINGS OVER PAST SIX MONTHS – By Gender, Parents of Children <18, Metro Status

    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

    Gender

    Parents of Children <18

    Metro Status

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    Urban

    Suburban

    Rural

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Purchasing more generic brands

    62

    56

    67

    72

    60

    61

    60

    67

    Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

    46

    42

    49

    60

    41

    46

    45

    46

    Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

    41

    35

    46

    47

    39

    42

    39

    42

    Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water

    37

    33

    40

    45

    35

    42

    37

    33

    Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

    28

    25

    30

    27

    28

    26

    26

    31

    Cancelled or cut back cable television service

    27

    23

    31

    35

    25

    33

    25

    25

    Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

    20

    19

    21

    30

    17

    20

    21

    20

    Cut down on dry cleaning

    20

    20

    19

    26

    18

    24

    20

    16

    Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

    19

    19

    19

    27

    17

    22

    17

    20

    Changed or cancelled cell phone service

    16

    15

    17

    27

    13

    20

    14

    17

    Cancelled a newspaper subscription

    15

    15

    16

    22

    13

    14

    16

    15

    Begun carpooling or using mass transit

    14

    17

    12

    20

    12

    18

    14

    10

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 18 and 24, 2013 among 2,577 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.

    The Harris Poll® #71, October 8, 2013

    By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading 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 proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, 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.