Another consumer survey produces dismal results


It was just yesterday in this space when we noted surveys showing modest signs of economic improvement among the business community. We also noted that business surveys often run counter to consumer surveys. Here’s a consumer survey from The Harris Poll that offers more confirmation of that observation.

What Harris found is that continued economic uncertainty has consumers cutting back on expenditures.

Here are some specifics:

* 67% are purchasing more generics, and 10% have thought about it

* 46% are brown bagging now (we used to brown bag because it’s healthier!)

* 43% are cutting back on hair styling and haircuts

* 39% have stopped using bottled water

* 31% have cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

* 24% use dry-cleaners less often

* 22% are cutting back or cancelling cable TV

* 18% a cancelling a newspaper subscription (worse, for 44% its irrelevant, because they don’t have one to begin with)

* 16% are cutting the cord on their landline phone, and 19% are thinking about it

* 14% are changing or adjusting cell service, and 15% are thinking about it

* 14% have begun using carpools or mass transit

Harris says that cutbacks in all categories have increased since February 2011 and are either at or slightly higher than levels reported in June 2010.

RBR-TVBR observation: Businesses sometimes know things that consumers do not. They know they are getting back to capex spending – creating demand, creating jobs. They know they intend to hire again, and certainly will not lay off more people, a big economic plus. Consumers are operating in the here and now, but they will benefit if businesses do what they say they will, and their sentiments will become sunnier.