By Quentin Fottrell
The recession has changed the way Americans shop, according to a new survey, which says that nearly three-quarters of consumers see higher prices slowing their spending in the months ahead. Despite widespread sales and coupon offers, only 27% of consumers believe that stores are offering more value for money and over half of those polled say that stores now offer less sales help.
The survey by financial consultancy Deloitte LLP says 40% of consumers interact with retailers on social networking sites and 37% with smart phones want to use them in stores, but can’t because of connectivity issues. “The recession has redefined the consumer’s relationship with retailers, and social and mobile applications have accelerated this change,” says Alison Paul, leader of Deloitte’s U.S. retail practice.
The reasons for much of this discontent, according to Deloitte’s 2011 Spring Consumer Pulse Survey, is inflation. Around 70% of respondents are worried about energy prices, nearly 50% are concerned about higher medical costs, while 44% of consumers take political unrest overseas into account as a reason to pull back on their spending.
What’s more, the survey concludes that more than 1-in-2 Americans feel that that recession, which technically ended nearly two years ago, isn’t over.
In a separate article on the subject of spending habits, Ann Brenoff, who was laid off two years ago from her syndicated Los Angeles Times column about celebrity real estate, takes it one step further than those interviewed by Deloitte. She believes the recession may ultimately change our relationship to shopping … period.
Since 2009, she has reassessed her own conspicuous consumption, realized that even she could live with less and says she’s a happier person since she lost her job. “Immediate gratification, we’ve discovered, is for those who don’t know any better. I know all this because I’m one of those people who learned these things the hard way,” she says.
“We also learned the difference between wants and needs and realized that shopping as a recreational sport is actually a pretty shallow way to spend the afternoon,” Brenoff adds. “But perhaps most important, we realized we were capable of saving our money for our future.”
How have your shopping habits changed?