By  on February 2, 2010

Consumers are growing increasingly pessimistic about the ability of the economy to fully bounce back from the recession.

According to the Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey released by BIGresearch, the share of adults who expect the economy to “ever rebound to what it was before the current economic crisis” fell to 40.8 percent in January from 44.6 percent in July and 49.7 percent last March. Meanwhile, the percentage of those with a negative response to the question rose to 30.3 percent in January from 26 percent in July and just 21.9 percent last March.

Of the more than 8,000 surveyed, 29 percent were unsure of the future look of the economy, on par with 29.4 percent in July and 28.4 percent in March.

“A jaded consumer has emerged from this recession, and it may take a while for them to get back to spending as usual, if they ever do,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of BIGresearch, based in Worthington, Ohio.

Responding to another question, 30 percent of respondents said they were confident or very confident in the chances for a strong economy, up slightly from 29.9 percent in December and 29.2 percent in November, but down from 30.4 percent in October. Although far better than last January’s reading of 24.7 percent, it is below the 33.5 percent affirmative response of January 2008 and the 50.5 percent reading at the start of 2007, and less than half January 2002’s mark of 61.7 percent.

However, the 2002 measure didn’t stand up against the pressures of the first recession of the Millennium, dropping to 37 percent in January 2003 before rebounding to 50.9 percent in January 2004.

Younger consumers were most optimistic about the chances for a full economic recovery, and older consumers the least. This trend was echoed by a query on personal wealth, in which 52 percent of respondents said they “feel less wealthy” than they did a year ago, versus 12.4 percent who felt more wealthy.

Broken down by age, 18.4 percent of the 18- to 34-year-olds felt more wealthy versus just 10.2 percent of those in the 35 to 54 bracket and 9.1 percent of those 55 and older. While 43.9 percent of the youngest group said they felt less wealthy, that sentiment was expressed by 55.8 percent of the 35 to 54 sample and 55.3 percent of the older demographic.

In BIG’s analysis of consumer purchasing intentions for the next 90 days, women’s and men’s apparel, both casual and dress, were projected to trend downward, as were footwear and children’s. The only categories showing upward momentum were home improvement and lawn and garden, while health and beauty care was seen flat.

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