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Study: Shoppers are done with excess

New York — Shoppers have returned to the stores — but they're shopping with a new set of priorities, according to a report from WSL Strategic Retail.

How America Shops 2004 found that consumers are spending more on education, savings/investments and shopping. However, they are spending less on leisure travel, entertainment and themselves. Products considered essentials are pet supplies, food, hair care, prescription drugs and clothing. Less essential goods include computers/software, home decorating, perfume/fragranced body, cosmetics and fashion accessories.

Shoppers are now visiting 2.6 outlets per week, up from 1.9 outlets in 2002 and close to the 2000 level of 2.9. However, 59 percent said that before they buy, they stop to ask themselves whether the purchase is a smart use of their money. In addition, 57 percent said they shop differently to help simplify their lives.

"Prudent spending is indispensable in this 'new normal,'" the report concluded. "It's about making choices, recognizing they cannot have it all, and so 'pushing back.'"

Channels on the rise include supercenters, dollar stores, warehouse clubs and the Internet. The survey found that 63 percent of women had shopped a supercenter in the last 90 days, 62 percent had shopped at dollar stores, and 52 percent had shopped warehouse clubs. The number of women who shop on the Internet every week jumped to 13 percent from 5 percent in 2002.

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