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BigResearch, NRF find tepid consumer spending trends in early December

Worthington, Ohio – Less than one third of consumers – most of them younger – feel very confident or confident about chances for a strong economy going forward, and about half said they are focusing their holiday purchases on practical and necessary goods, according to findings from BigResearch’s Dec. 1 to 9 consumer survey.

But the home category at retail can look forward to some good news stemming from BigResearch’s findings. When asked about their spending plans over the next 90 days on specific product categories, several home categories – home improvement, lawn and garden, furniture, and home décor – trended upward versus to last month.

“Some of that might be seasonal as we look forward to spring,” explained Pamela Goodfellow, senior analyst for BigResearch during a conference call today.

By comparison, women’s and children’s apparel trended downward.

BigResearch collected 9,929 responses from consumers surveyed for the study.

The big story this month from the study, she pointed out, came from consumers focusing on needs over wants. In early December, nearly three in five, or 57.2%, said they are focused on their necessities – up almost one point from a year ago.

“It’s the highest number we’ve ever recorded in a December,” Goodfellow said. “This shows that this is not a great time for retailers. It shows that people are really focused on the necessities rather than [for example] that extra sweater.”

On a related note, practicality in purchasing is on the rise from November. One in two consumers, or 49.5%, said they had become more practical in their purchasing – up almost four points from November, when it was 45.9%.

“We’re tracking close to our figure recorded a year ago when we know consumers weren’t in a great mindset back in late 2008,” she continued. “The current reading is also nearly 10 points higher than two years ago. So we are still trending upward toward stable economic times.”

Consumer confidence “up-ticked slightly,” she said, to 29.9% compared to November’s 29.3%.

“But this is showing great growth from 2008, when it was 20%,” Goodfellow noted. “This is encouraging, but when we surveyed in 2008 it was just after the recession was confirmed and it was not a good time for consumers.”

When asked about their predications for more layoffs in the next six months, about one-third said they expected more to come, nearly half expect levels to remain the same, and one in five thinks there will be a decrease.

 

 

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