Gas Prices Affecting Consumer Purchase Decisions

biginsight-gas-prices-grocery-shopping-april2012.jpgGas prices are causing consumers of all ages to re-evaluate their spending decisions, finds BIGinsight in an April 2012 report. When it comes to groceries, almost half of American adults say they are using coupons more often, while 44.3% are foregoing impulse purchases and 38.7% are buying more store brand and generic products. While Boomers (born 1946-1964) are most likely to be making those changes, Gen Y adults (born 1983-1993) are most likely to say they are switching to different brands because they are cheaper or on sale (38.4% vs. the 35.2% average). And Gen X adults (born 1965-1982) are most likely to say they are making a list and only buying the products on it (36.8% vs. 35.1%).

Clothing and Accessories Also Affected

BIGinsights’ American Pulse survey also finds that a high proportion of consumers are changing their spending habits on clothing, shoes, and accessories. Roughly 2 in 5 are only buying these items on sale, led by Gen Y adults (42.6%). 38% are shopping less frequently for these products, while about one-third are shopping at discount stores more often, led again by Gen Y adults (41.1%). About 3 in 10 are making clothing, shoes, and accessories a smaller part of their budget, relatively consistent across age groups save for Silent Generation adults (born 1945 or earlier), of whom just one-quarter are cutting back in this way. There is more variety in the responses for shopping at malls less often, with Gen Y adults 44.3% more likely than Boomers to curtail this activity (30.6% vs. 21.2%).

Dining Out Most Affected Activity

Meanwhile, according to April 2012 survey results from Harris Interactive, 55% of Americans who own a vehicle say they have cut back on products and/or services in order to pay for higher gas prices. The most common cutbacks have been for dining out (75%), driving in general (73%), entertainment (65%), and weekend trips or day trips (65%). A large proportion have also cut back on luxury items (62%) and vacations (59%), while a majority have curtailed their spending on clothing (55%) and movies (54%).

Groceries (38%), personal grooming (37%), and auto repairs or upkeep (24%) have been the subject of cutbacks for a smaller proportion. It is interesting to note that while the proportion of BIGinsight survey respondents who have changed their grocery and clothing shopping habits is relatively similar, Harris Interactive survey respondents were much more likely to report cutting back on clothing than groceries.

Other Findings:

  • According to the Harris survey, almost 9 in 10 Americans expect gas prices to be higher entering the summer.
  • Data from an April 2012 BIGinsight blog post indicates that among select items that have been removed from regular grocery lists due to increasing food prices, Gen Y adults are 3 times more likely to have cut back on coffee as Silent Generation adults (16% vs. 5.3%).
  • Close to 3 in 10 Silent Generation adults have dropped organic foods from their grocery lists due to rising food prices, compared to 20% of the Gen X and Gen Y groups.
  • Magazines and name brands in general are the most likely of the items identified to be cut back by all generations.

About the Data: The BIGinsightdata on groceries and clothing and accessories is based on a survey of 3,738 Americans. The data on select grocery item cutbacks is from the same survey, conducted April 3-10, 2012, though with 8,724 respondents. This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between March 12 and March 19, 2012 among 2,451 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 2,172 own a vehicle.

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