Consumer Spending Moderately Rises

February 14, 2011

harris-spending-saving-nov2008-jan11-feb11.gifConsumers are slightly more likely to spend money in a variety of areas than they have been in the past six months and slightly less likely to reduce spending, according to results of a new Harris Poll. For example, 36% of respondents say they are somewhat or very likely to take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week in the next six months, up about 16% from 31% in September 2010.

Monetary Optimism Up

Another sign consumers may be more inclined to spend money this year is a 25% increase in the percentage who say they think it is very or somewhat likely they will have more money to spend the way they want in the next six months. However, the percentage is still fairly low, having risen from 25% in September 2010 to 30% this month.

The percentage of consumers expressing a likelihood of other major purchases in the next six months is relatively flat. Twenty-one percent say it is likely they will move to a new residence, up almost 17% from 18% in September 2010, the same percentage increase in respondents saying it is likely they will buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van (up from 12% to 14%).

While there was a 40% increase in the percentage of consumers saying it is likely they will purchase a new recreational vehicle in the next six months, the actual percentage remained very small (up from 5% to 7%). Eleven percent more say it is likely they will start a new business (up from 9% to 10%), and the percentages likely to buy a new house/condo and/or new computer remained flat from September 2010.

Fewer Likely to Reduce Spending

In addition to moderate increases in general likelihood to increase spending, the poll also shows moderate decreases in likelihood to reduce spending in two key areas. Sixty-three percent of respondents say they are somewhat or very likely to reduce spending on eating out in restaurants, down about 4.5% from 66% in September 2010.

And there was a larger 8% decline in consumers saying they are likely to decrease spending on entertainment. This figure fell from 64% in September 2010 to 59%. The percentage of consumers likely to save or invest more money remained flat at 49%.

Consumers Stressed, Still Buy More

Consumers have a relatively flat financial outlook for the coming months as stress levels rise and financial difficulties increase, according to the Consumer Reports Index for February 2010. However, one bright spot is that retail spending for the previous and upcoming 30 days appear to be on the upswing.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 17 to 24, 2011 among 2,566 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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