Another sign of softening economic sentiment


ConsumersA look at consumers from Harris Interactive shows that a majority are expecting to cut discretionary spending over the next six months, and also look for savings in what purchases they do make. And while there are some planning big ticket purchases, that turns out to be a silver lining unfortunately accompanied by a dark cloud.

More than 60% are cutting back on eating out and entertainment; meanwhile, 53% believe they will not have enough income to enable socking cash away in savings; and 72% expect that desired purchases will have to be put off.

Here are key data points from the Harris survey:
* Save or invest more money (with likely ratings dropping from 50% to 47% – the lowest level since this series began in November of 2008)
* Have more money to spend the way you want (28%, down from 31%)
* Take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week (dropping from 35% to 27% – the lowest level on record)

The bulk of the pessimism seems to exist on the female side of the gender divide, according to Harris. Some evidence:
*Women are more likely than men to say that they will reduce spending on entertainment in the next six months (64% and 57%, respectively)

Men demonstrate greater confidence:
* Saving or investing more money (51% men, 44% women)
* Having more money to spend the way they want (32% men, 24% women)
* Buying or leasing a newly manufactured car, truck or van (17% men, 11% women)
* Buying a boat or recreational vehicle (6% men, 3% women)

Savings strategies are gaining adherents. More data points:
* Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it (up from 44% to 46% – the highest level recorded since June 2011, when it was also 46%)
* Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often (up from 39% to 41% – again the highest since June 2011, when it was at 43%)
* Cancelled or cut back cable services (up from 24% to 27% and currently at its highest level on record)

Again, women are more pessimistic:
* Purchasing more generic brands (67% women, 56% men)
* Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it (49% women, 42% men)
* Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often (46% women, 35% men)
* Switched to a refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles of water (40% women, 33% men)
* Cancelled or cut back cable television services (31% women, 23% men)

It turns out that parents of children under the age of 18 are more likely to make a big ticket investment – but the caveat is they are likely to cut down on their small ticket expenditures to generate the cash they need for the bigger purchase.