Thrifty spending will continue for consumers, NPD says

CHICAGO Consumers are not confident the economy will turn around any time soon and will continue to practice their current spending habits, the NPD Group said.

In its "What’s Next on the Road to Recovery" report, NPD examined food and beverage purchases among consumers. NPD found 1-in-5 consumers expected the economic state to worsen within 12 months, half of all consumers expected their financial situation to be the same as it is today. Looking ahead, 9-out-of-10 consumers said they will plan and watch their spending on food and beverages outside the home. 

“There are encouraging signs that the economy may be heading for recovery, but according to our findings, consumers, especially those with lower incomes, continue to struggle,” said Dori Hickey, director of product development at NPD and author of the report. “Most consumers have unquestionably felt the sting of tough economic times and have cut back on spending and adopted thriftier behaviors -- behaviors that may become entrenched the longer the recession continues. Our findings suggest we may be looking at a new ‘normal.’”

The thriftier behaviors that consumers disclosed they would do more often than now over the next six months included decreasing spending on groceries, especially those with household incomes under $35,000; using coupons for food and beverage items from newspapers or magazines; stocking up on foods and beverages when they are on sale; searching store circulars for low prices on food or beverages that are on sale; buying less-expensive brands of foods and beverages; and searching for manufacturer coupons online.

“As food and beverage manufacturers and retailers begin to rethink their marketing communication programs as they start their recovery planning, it’s important that they understand their consumer’s mindset,” Hickey said. “Consumers lost personal wealth in this recession and they’re skeptical that ‘things will go back to the way they were.’ In their minds, it appears the road to recovery will be a long one.”

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