NEW YORK — If women shoppers are putting their money where their mouths are, then retailers might want to pay closer attention to a monthly survey about anticipated consumer spending patterns.
The survey is conducted every month by BIGresearch, a consumer market intelligence firm. The surveys are conducted at the beginning of each month, with some 8,000 to 10,000 respondents answering a wide range of questions, from demographics to attitudes about the economy, as well as specifics on shopping strategies and financial planning.
Earlier this month, shoppers said they were planning to spend less over the course of the next 90 days. More interesting for the retail and apparel industry was where consumers said they shopped and what they considered when making purchases.
The women surveyed this month didn’t seem particularly enamored with branded apparel. One of the yes/no statements asked was “When buying clothes, familiar labels are important to me.” Of those surveyed, 68.8 percent answered no, while 31.2 percent said yes. As for their feelings toward fashion, a whopping 64.3 percent said it was less important than value and comfort. Those who said they preferred a traditional, conservative look weighed in at 24.6 percent, while the newest trends and styles were important to just 11.1 percent.
Regarding full-price selling, the survey suggests it may be short-lived. Of those surveyed, 66.8 percent said they usually buy apparel only when it is on sale, with 24.2 percent adamant about buying only sale-priced items and 9 percent saying sales do not play a role in their purchasing decision.
About 35.7 percent of respondents said they shop for apparel at discount stores, with only 29.7 percent heading to the department store for apparel and 18.1 percent targeting specialty stores as their destination.
Where do most women say they buy clothes? Wal-Mart. More than 24 percent of those polled said it was the place they shopped most often for women’s apparel.
Coming in at a distant second was J.C. Penney with 7.4 percent. Kohl’s placed third at 6.2 percent. Trendy Target was fourth at 3.4 percent. Others on the list included Kmart, at 3.2 percent, and Macy’s, which was at 1.5 percent. There were also 30.4 percent who said they shopped elsewhere, but that includes nameplates not on the survey list as well as catalogue- and Web site-only retailers.
Of the women surveyed, 80.2 percent said that they shopped at a certain store because of price, with selection coming in second at 68.4 percent. About 45 percent of the respondents said that in the past six months they have become more practical and realistic about their purchases. Meanwhile, 54.9 percent said they’ve focused more on “needs” rather than “wants.”
Over the next three months, 41.9 percent said they were planning on paying down debt, while 35.1 percent planned to decrease overall spending. Others, or 30.5 percent, said they planned to increase savings, and 26 percent said they planned to pay with cash more often.
Looking ahead over the next 90 days, 48.5 percent said they planned to spend the same for dress apparel, but an equally high percentage, or 44.1 percent, said they would spend less. For women who were contemplating purchases of casual apparel, 60.6 percent expected to spend the same, while 30.7 percent said they would pare down on expenditures. Rising gas prices have had some impact, with 22.6 percent saying that they are spending less on apparel. A greater number, or 26.7 percent, said they’ve reduced the number of times that they are dining out, while 32.6 percent have elected to decrease their spending on vacation or travel plans.