In an ongoing effort to understand how consumers continue to adapt to the recession, we recently asked BIGresearch to explore with consumers what “big ticket” purchases they have either put off – or may never make at all. While tighter purse strings are a given these days, the results illustrate how priorities differ across consumer segments. The overall good news: retailers in the business of selling big ticket items can take heart, even if they have to be patient as some consumers delay some of those purchases for now.
A side note: unlike many of the studies that Shop.org commissions, this survey is not specific to the Web. However, the results are entirely relevant to online retailers as consumers increasingly shop across channels. (For the flip side of the coin, I recommend reading also the list of consumer “untouchables”(i.e. what they absolutely won’t give up) that STORES magazine published in this month’s issue.)
So – we first asked consumers “As a result of the recession, which of the following major (big dollar) purchases are you waiting to make?” Top of the list: vacation travel, which over a third of consumers is putting off for now, with women taking a somewhat harder line than men on this luxury. Interestingly, income doesn’t seem to be the only deciding factor on this item – somewhat more high income earners ($50+K per annum) are putting off vacations than are those consumers earning less.
Next on the chopping block for approximately one quarter of consumers: major home improvement or repair projects (the irony here being that some contractors likely now have more time to return calls and maybe even negotiate, unlike in boom years past), furniture, a TV, a computer, and home appliances. Again, consumer segments reveal some differences for each of these. For example, 29% of 18 to 34 year olds are waiting to buy a new computer (presumably the old one works fine?) but just 17% of consumers aged 55 and older are putting off this purchase. Ditto for furniture. A quarter of consumers earning less than $50K per year is putting off buying a new TV, compared with one fifth of those earning more (perhaps the latter already bought a great TV not long before the economy took a tumble?).
What about purchases that consumers had in mind to purchase at some point but now think they may never make at all? Overall, vacation travel (25%) and major home improvements / repairs (20.3%) appear furthest out of reach for some consumers. Perhaps not surprisingly, one quarter of consumers aged 18 to 34 think they may never buy a house, more so than all other age groups. The good news: overall, few consumers seem to think they’ll never be able to buy new big ticket items such as consumer electronics (e.g. a digital camera, a DVD player, etc.), jewelry, furniture, and the like – even if a few are putting off those purchases for the immediate time.
Shop.org Members can download the full, segmented results now. Let me know your thoughts and comments!