SymphonyIRI survey: Steadfast spending to carry through summer

CHICAGO Consumers are more cautious with their spending this summer season compared with years past, according to a new survey released by SymphonyIRI Group.

Compared with 2008 and 2009, SymphonyIRI's Summer Rituals survey found that of 1,000 households polled, there was a shift in consumer spending behavior, which in turn affected consumers' lifestyles. Approximately 75% of households earning less than $100,000 opted to cook meals at home to save money but also turned to healthier choices for cooking and eating. For those earning more than $100,000, 58% focused on cooking and eating to save money.

Other cash-strapped methods translated to the pollsters' shopping habits. While shoppers continued to shop at such supercenters as Walmart supercenter and Super Target (25% in 2009 and 2010), consumers expected to increase shopping at such mass merchandisers as Walmart and Kmart, club stores and dollar stores. Other changes included:

  • About 56 to 67% of shoppers planned to continue their trips to mass merchandisers as they have in the past, with an average of 20% across income groups who said they plan to increase their shopping trips within this retail channel;
  • Across income segments, 12% to 18% of consumers planned to increase their trips to the club channel, with the lowest growth rate among shoppers earning $35,000 or less (12%) and the highest growth rate among shoppers earning $100,000 or more (18%);
  • Trips to dollar stores also increased across income segments. For this channel, higher-income shoppers showed stronger growth of 11 points versus the year-ago period (9% in 2009, 20% in 2010), compared with five points in the lowest income bracket (32% in 2009, 27% in 2010); and
  • Trips to grocery stores and drug stores showed a slight increase in expected shopper trips this summer, compared with 2009 across all income segments.

“Though the economy is beginning to show signs of improvement, consumers have hunkered down for the long haul and adopted savvy spending strategies to get them through what’s expected to be a long and potentially rocky economic recovery,” said Susan Viamari, editor of SymphonyIRI’s Times & Trends.

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