Americans Make Small Cutbacks

February 17, 2010

American consumers are cutting back on small purchases to save money, according to a recent Harris Poll from Harris Interactive.

For example, almost two-thirds of U.S. adults (63%) say they have purchased more generic brands in the past six months to save money while an additional 12% say they have considered doing so.harris-spending-saving-last-6-months-feb-2010.jpg

Other highlights of small cutbacks American consumers are making include:

  • Almost half (45%) say they are brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it, with 8% having considered doing so; 34% say this is not applicable to them.
  • Two in five (39%) are going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often and 8% have considered doing so.
  • One-third of Americans (34%) have switched to refillable water bottles instead of purchasing bottles of water while 10% have considered doing so.
  • The media is also taking a hit as 33% of U.S. adults have canceled one of more magazine subscriptions, one in five (19%) have canceled a newspaper subscription and 22% have canceled or cut back on cable television service, with an additional one in five (20%) having considered doing so.
  • One in five Americans say they have cut down on dry cleaning (22%) and stopped purchasing coffee in the morning (21%).

The only thing a majority of U.S. adults say they have neither done nor considered doing is changing or canceling their cell phone service (52%), and only 15% have done so.


Gen X Brown Bags It
There are also some generational differences in what people are doing to save money. Gen Xers (those aged 34-45) are more likely to brown bag lunch (56%) and cut back on hair styling (43%). Matures (those aged 65 and older) are more likely to cancel a magazine subscription (45%). Echo Boomers (those aged 18-33) are more likely to cancel their landline service and only use their cell phone (20%) and to carpool or use mass transit (26%).


Groceries, Healthcare Top Consumer Spending Agenda
When asked where their money will go during February 2009, 49% of the general U.S. population said they will spend the same or more money this month as last month, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Consumers listed specific spending areas including:

  • Groceries – 52%
  • Child/elder care – 50%
  • Medical bill/healthcare – 49%
  • Auto expenses – 48%
  • Entertainment – 47%
  • Dining out – 45%
  • Loans/credit card payments – 44%
  • Tax payments – 44%
  • Education – 43%

However, 83% of the general population has a defined saving plan in place. Thirty percent of the general population and 42% of young professionals plan to cut back on extra purchases such as “morning lattes” and “manicures” as part of their plan.About the Survey: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States January 18 to 25, 2010 among 2,576 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.


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