Update: Consumers Shopping Again, But Maintaining Responsible Approaches to Spending

A new report about shoppers’ spending habits reveals that they are in fact out buying again, but the lessons of the recent recession have sunk in, and they’re being cautious about their purchases. Shoppers’ spending rose over the recent holiday season more than in recent years, bolstered by larger discounts from retailers and a fair amount of pent-up demand, and many industry watchers were quick to suggest consumers might finally be ready to open their wallets.

Yet the latest findings of exclusive consumer research, conducted for the National Retail Federation’s ‘STORES’ division by BIGresearch, indicates that spending patterns have remained largely unchanged over that time period. For example, personal indulgences continue to be perceived as expendable, yet the latest round of data shows that 82 percent of U.S. consumers consider their Internet service to be the top item they cannot live without.

Shopping for apparel appears to be making a slow but quantifiable comeback since the first expendable/untouchable research was conducted three years ago. More than half of those polled (52 percent) cite discount shopping for apparel to be something they cannot live without, yet only 43 percent felt that way when the data was first compiled in 2008. Similarly, 25 percent consider department store shopping “untouchable,” compared with 19 percent who expressed that sentiment three years ago.

The complete report, including charts showing a breakdown of spending preferences, can be found HERE.