Bigresearch finds consumers focused on needs, not wants this holiday

Retail Editor 9, October 15, 2010

Columbus, Ohio - This holiday, consumers will be shopping for more needs than wants, as less than a third feel very confident about the chances for a strong economy, according to consumer research firm Bigresearch's October Consumer Intentions & Actions (CIA) survey.

Bigresearch monitors more than 8,000 consumers each month for its CIA report. This month, the survey was conducted from Oct. 5 to 12.

"It appears that consumers are feeling more realistic and less optimistic about the current state of the union," the firm noted, based on 28.5% of respondents who said they are very confident or confident in chances for a strong economy. That figure was up one point from last month's 27.4% rating, but it is two points below a year ago when it was 30.4%. Still, it is almost 10 points ahead of Oct. 2008's 19.0%, but remains well below Oct. 2007's 44.8%.

Practicality is increasing among consumers, Bigresearch also found, as nearly half of the respondents - 48.6% - said they've become more practical in their purchasing, representing a one-point increase from September's 47.6%. Practicality remains on par with Oct. 2009's 48.8%.

In addition, more than half - 56.7% - said they are focused on needs over wants when spending, increasing three points from September's 53.8% reading and nearly a point from Oct. 2009's 56.0%.

Once they hit the stores, full-price items will not be on the radar. Rather, consumers will be strictly shopping "sale" goods, the survey found. One-quarter (24.4%) of shoppers contended they "only" buy clothing on sale, while an additional 62.6% "usually" shop the sales - both of these figures declining slightly from Oct. 2009.

Only 13.0% said sales aren't important, representing a two-point rise from a year ago.

"It appears that consumers have a trick and a treat in store for retailers in October," said Bigresearch, based on its Diffusion Index, which tracks respondents who say they'll spend less and subtracts them from those who will spend more.

"While most categories are up from September, October 2009 and October 2008, all categories remain down compared to pre-recession October 2007," the firm added.

Home décor and furniture are up for the September 2010 and October 2009 and 2008 periods. However, home improvement was flat and lawn & garden was down, both in September.


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