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First Look: January 2013

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Snapshot Summary January 2013Eager to know where consumers stand as we begin the New Year?

We’ve got the latest details on consumer confidence, employment, purchase plans, financial goals as well as what’s hot (or not) in our January 2013 Snapshot Summary. Here are some of the highlights:

- Did the fiscal cliff free fall we nearly experienced lead to more fragile sentiment for the New Year? For January, just over a third (35.3%) is very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy, down two points from last month.

- Though the U.S. unemployment rate remained stagnant at 7.8% for December, consumers maintain slightly higher hopes for the job market compared to thirty days ago. Look for unemployment to remain a hot topic in 2013, though: year-over-year; consumers look less optimistic about the pink slip situation.

- Perhaps some of those holiday gift cards are leading consumers to less practical pastures…this month, while nearly half are poised for pragmatic spending, this figure has declined three points from 30 days ago.

- New Year’s Resolution #1: Fix the Finances…in January, more than a third affirm that they plan to pay down debt and/or decrease overall spending over the next three months, rising from December as well as Jan-12 and Jan-11.

- With the annual average price of gas the highest on record in 2012, it should come as no surprise that drivers haven’t relegated this issue to the back seat…two-thirds are still affected by the pain at the pump. Drivers’ pump price prediction for the end of January is $3.52/gal, just under what was expected at the close of 2012.

- In this month’s retail roundup: In Women’s Clothing, Kohl’s bests Walmart for January, while the big discounter seems to be thisclose to losing the top spot in Shoes as well…stay tuned. Amazon proves it’s the biggest-freight-train-that-could in Electronics, nearly doubling customer share Y-O-Y. And, in an interesting development in Health & Beauty: it appears that 2013 could be a battle between Target and Walgreens…

- Evidence of a holiday hangover? With the gift-giving season in the rearview, consumers take a downward approach to spending compared to December.

- It’s blue skies ahead for vacationers in this month’s BIG Ticket, as 6 month purchase intentions for vacation travel have increased M-O-M and Y-O-Y.

- Not only is Amazon’s the world’s largest online retailer, but it’s the hottest as well…nearly four out of five consumers voted Amazon what’s hot in January. Plus: “Made in America” products, exercise/going to the gym, Super Bowl XLVII, and Walmart.

Our monthly Consumer Snapshot video analysis of the State of the Consumer for 2013 will be released tomorrow, January 16. This special edition includes quick insights on the five things you need to know about consumers in the New Year. To sign up to be a BIGinsight™ VIP and receive our Consumer Snapshot email notification, please click here.

And, to view the Snapshot Summary in its entirely: January 2013.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2013, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development

New December Insights in a Snap!

December 13, 2012 Leave a comment

This month’s Consumer Snapshot is ready! The video below is a concise look at a few trending topics for the month of December, designed to give you a BIG picture view of current consumers.

Here’s a brief overview of what we’re seeing from consumers in December 2012:

- Will the fiscal cliff prove to be the Grinch who stole Christmas? Confidence backs down two points from November.
- While the official unemployment rate registered at 7.7% for November,this doesn’t seem to be quite the hiring miracle consumers were hoping to see this season.
- After the buying bonanza that was Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers’ penchant for practicality rises in December.
- It appears that along with trimming the tree this month, consumers will also be trimming their budgets.
- Walmart versus Kohl’s is a toss-up this month in Women’s Clothing.
- Amazon.com climbs to record customer share in Electronics.
- It’s a frosty 90 Day Outlook with spending plans looking downward from Nov-12, Dec-11.
- What’s Hot? Holiday shopping…online.

 

Be sure to check out the NEW Consumer Snapshot InsightCenter™. When you register for complimentary access to this InsightCenter™, you’ll have the ability to segment an advance preview of our all-star insights on consumer confidence, employment, shopping strategies, and future purchase plans by several key demographic groups. You can also download this month’s text summary (which includes additional insights) as well as the PowerPoint analysis through this InsightCenter™.

Interested in becoming a BIG VIP? Please click here to sign up for access to a host of complimentary insights, from our briefings and webinars to press releases and more.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

New November Insights in a Snap!

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

This month’s Consumer Snapshot is ready! The video below is a concise look at a few trending topics for the month of November, designed to give you a BIG picture view of current consumers.

Here’s a brief overview of what we’re seeing from consumers in November 2012:

- Confidence reaches a five year high
- With the holiday season on the horizon, it appears that consumers are in a gifting mood
- With the majority planning to begin holiday purchasing before December, the tightwad tendencies we’ve seen over the past few months have begun to relax
- Payless advances to the co-leader position in Shoes
- Walmart trumps Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s in Organics
- 90 Day Outlook: Mixed from October, UP from Nov-11, Nov-10
- I hope Santa blings me something sparkly
- What’s Hot…Giving thanks for Black Friday?


Be sure to check out the NEW Consumer Snapshot InsightCenter™. When you register for complimentary access to this InsightCenter™, you’ll have the ability to segment an advance preview of our all-star insights on consumer confidence, employment, shopping strategies, and future purchase plans by several key demographic groups. You can also download this month’s text summary (which includes additional insights) as well as the PowerPoint analysis through this InsightCenter™.

Interested in becoming a BIG VIP? Please click here to sign up for access to a host of complimentary insights, from our briefings and webinars to press releases and more.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Generation Gap: What’s worth our tax dollars?

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

With the “fiscal cliff” looming and potential tax increases on the horizon, it’s interesting to see where Americans of all ages agree (and where they don’t) when it comes to their hard-earned dough being divvied up by the government.

No big surprise, most Americans (71.2%) would rather shrink the size of government than raise taxes. Members of the Boomer Generation (75.9%), Silent Generation (75.2%), Gen X (70.5%) and Gen Y (61.9%) agree. But where should the government cut back?

Members of Generation Y appear most likely among the age groups to opt for a tax increase instead of cutting public services (police, education) or social programs (welfare, Medicare). The Silent Generation seems to agree, while the middle generations are mixed:

Although all generations appear willing to support education and safety, the majority of Gen X and the Boomers would prefer the budget for social programs like welfare get a trim before their paychecks.

Perhaps Gen Y is more likely to support higher taxes because most prefer to be unemployed! Over half (55.2%) say they would rather be unemployed and happy than be employed and miserable. While happiness is great, older generations are more likely to cope with misery if it means food on the table and shelter for their family:

It seems the Boomer Generation is the most likely to opt for employment even if it means unhappiness—perhaps they are housing some unemployed and happy members of the youngest generation!  :)

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, October 2012 #1, N = 3529

© 2012, Prosper®

Last Minute Report on Likely Voters

Tomorrow is the big day. The presidential election of 2012 has come in like a lion with vicious attacks from both camps. If you’re anything like me, you’re sick of the negative campaign ads, the constant phone calls and the rhetoric. But tomorrow night it will all be over. Hopefully. I’m crossing my fingers this one doesn’t end up at the Supreme Court, but this is going to be a close one folks.

The latest American Pulse™ report is tracking Romney (46.1%) and Obama (45.9%) to be running neck and neck among likely voters. (Although if you are into old wives tales, the Washington Redskins loss this past weekend pretty much seals the deal for Romney.) However, the findings from the report could provide some foreshadowing into who will be sworn in come January.

According to the report, it’s all about the economy. Sure people are worried about Iran, Afghanistan, and other issues abroad. But at the end of the day it comes down to what’s going on at home—and who’s best equipped to get the economy headed in the right direction. Here’s a few things we found to be particularly interesting.

  • 71.4% rate the economy as poor/terrible; 52% say it’s heading in the wrong direction.
  • 76.2% say economy will have the most impact on their vote; 37.2% say President Obama’s performance regarding the economy has been “terrible.”
  • 53.9% know someone receiving unemployment benefits; 55.1% know someone receiving food stamps.

Additionally 4 in 5 Americans believe their vote matters. Three-fourths say nothing will stop them from voting this year and roughly 70% say they are excited to vote.

Should make for an exciting day.

Check out the report:

For further insight, take a listen as our Consumer Insights Director, Pam Goodfellow, discusses the analysis on one of our favorite local morning radio programs: http://ow.ly/f2rkX

Source: BIGinsight.com

2012, Prosper®

Generation Gap: The “Normal” only appears to be “New” to older Americans

October 23, 2012 1 comment

You’ve heard the phrase “new normal” on the news, during conversation, in reference to the economy, etc…but what does it mean for most Americans? What has truly become part of normal everyday living in post-recession USA?

Most Americans agree that fluctuating gas prices (71.5%), the rising cost of food (63.5%) and high national debt (60.4%) are now normal parts of living in America that we just have to deal with. The slow-growing economy (53.1%) and the hassle of frequently shopping for sales (50.4%) also top the list.

Although fluctuating gas prices top the list of “normal” conditions for all age groups, members of the Silent Generation (83.9%) are more likely than those in Generation Y (57.5%) to say frequent pain at the pump is part of the “new normal.” Youngsters in the U.S. probably don’t remember when gas cost less than a dollar per gallon while those in the Silent Generation might be reminiscing of the good ol’ days when you could buy a gallon or two with the spare change in your pocket.

The generations also differ when it comes to modesty: not surprisingly, fewer members of younger generations notice a difference in the generally accepted code of conduct, while those in older generations are more likely to see a lack of modesty as a recent development in American living.

While the disappointment of deferring purchases is lower on the list of “new normal” situations to cope with, the Boomer Generation is most likely to feel the sting here. 39.6% of Boomers consider pushing off the purchase of a flat screen, vacation home or new car as just another part of living in the U.S. of A. For comparison, only 26.8% of Gen Yers agree.

For more on the “new normal,” head over to the Prosper Now Blog at Forbes.com.

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, October 2012 #1, N= 3529

© 2012, Prosper®

New October Insights in a Snap!

October 16, 2012 1 comment

This month’s Consumer Snapshot is ready! The video below is a concise look at a few trending topics for the month of October, designed to give you a BIG picture view of current consumers.

Here’s a brief overview of what we’re seeing from consumers in October 2012:

- Beware the fiscal cliff: confidence declines from September
- Employment outlook improves, but still just 1 in 5 expect “fewer” layoffs over the next 6 months
- Practicality when purchasing remains intact
- Increasing savings reaches highest October reading in 6 years
- Walmart wins in Apparel, Shoes
- Toys R Us, Amazon.com see YOY gains in Children’s Toys
- Holiday ’12 is shaping up to be a bit brighter, with the 90 Day Outlook improving for all categories
- DSLR buying trend? Plans to purchase digital cameras highest in 2 years
- Meet Little Miss “Not” Hot for October: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

 

And NEW this month is the Consumer Snapshot InsightCenter™. When you register for complimentary access to this new InsightCenter™, you’ll have the ability to segment an advance preview of our all-star insights on consumer confidence, employment, shopping strategies, and future purchase plans by several key demographic groups. You can also download this month’s text summary (which includes additional insights) as well as the PowerPoint analysis through this InsightCenter™.

Interested in becoming a BIG VIP? Please click here to sign up for access to a host of complimentary insights, from our briefings and webinars to press releases and more.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

The Holiday ’12 State of the Consumer

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

This week, the National Retail Federation announced their 2012 holiday forecast, predicting that sales will rise 4.1% over 2011 to $586.1 billion. The sales growth is expected to be slightly higher than the 10-year average holiday sales increase (3.5%), though pacing below last year’s growth (5.6%). With holiday shoppers gearing up for spending, let’s take a look at the “state of the consumer” as we head into this all-important selling season for retailers:

Confidence is UP, but Feelings are Volatile. In the BIGinsight September monthly survey of more than 9,000 consumers, 38% indicated that they were very confident or confident in chances for a strong economy. This was a high reading for 2012 and a vast improvement over the September 2011’s 23%, when consumers were still reeling from the debt crisis. Confidence is riding a four-point upswing from August to September, but don’t look for this indicator to continue to improve at this pace – 2012 has been a rollercoaster ride for sentiment and continued fluctuation is expected headed into Q4.

Consumer Confidence

The outcome of the “fiscal cliff” drama on Capitol Hill remains big question mark for the sustainability of confidence – as well as holiday sales. Should we fall off that precipice – and realize an average 2013 tax bill increase of $3500 – holiday budgets are bound to shrink. Adding to the precarious position of the economy? Our continuously weak job market. And the upcoming Presidential election also adds to the uncertainty.

Frugality is a Fixture in Consumer Finances. Along with the relatively robust increase in consumer confidence in September, we also witnessed similar increases in those focused on practical purchasing and buying just the necessities. In fact, both indicators are in line with what we saw a year ago, when confidence was just 23%. So yes, Virginia, despite the more positive outlook for the economy, consumers are still being very cautious with what they spend – even as we look forward to the holiday shopping season.

Expect holiday shoppers to stick to budgets, avoid impulse buys, continue smart shopping strategies, such as couponing, sales/promotions, and comparison shopping, as gift-buying commences. Frugality continues to be the name of the game with consumers because they know the economy isn’t “fixed.” Paying down debt and reducing spending remain fiscal priorities headed into the final three months of 2012, while plans to increase savings reached a six-year September high last month, so it appears that consumers may be preparing for holiday shopping as well as those everyday unknowns.

Pricing uncertainty in key areas, like grocery, gas, and apparel, continues to be of concern with consumers. An increasing number of shoppers are relying on their credit cards more compared to September 2011 when purchasing such staples – so we are still seeing signs of struggling consumers. (i.e. Holiday ’12 won’t herald a season of “recovery.”)

However, if it can be avoided, shoppers won’t make this Christmas on credit. Year over year, fewer are paying off just the minimum monthly balance on their cards, while we’ve seen a slight rise in those carrying $0 average monthly balances. The past four years have been a tough road for consumers, but they do appear to be focusing on not falling back into the lax spending/savings patterns that got them into a mess back in 2008.

Consumers Know They Have the Upper Hand with Retailers. Can we call this retail transparency? The rising popularity of mobile devices has taken much of the mystery out of shopping for customers holding a smartphone or tablet. They can compare prices, check availability, and even click “buy” from virtually wherever they are located, and shoppers will work all angles – online, instore, mobile, social media, coupon sites, direct mail, email, and ad circulars – to make sure that their holiday spending remains on budget. It’ll be a spending game that consumers want to win.

However, we know that all retailers can’t compete on low price alone [I’m looking at you, Best Buy.] Great customer service and personal rapport with shoppers will be key in driving traffic to retailers who aren’t low-price providers. Product selection, availability, and brand assortment – something department stores having really honed in on in the past few years – will also serve to turn shoppers’ heads this season. “Cheap is chic” is SO 2008; today’s shoppers want value and are willing to pay a little more for quality – as long as they can use a coupon.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com as a contribution to the Prosper Now blog.

Generation Gap: Withdrawing Trust

October 9, 2012 1 comment

Do you trust your bank? Or do you stash your cash inside the mattress? We asked Americans how they felt about their personal bank and the federal banking system. Nearly 3 in 4 (73.8%) said they can count on their local bank while fewer (39.4%) put stock in the U.S. banking system as a whole. Interestingly, trust levels vary by generation:

It seems as though older Americans have more trust in their local bank while youngsters are more trusting of the United States banking system as a whole, compared to other generations.

Gen Yers are also more optimistic that recently announced lower interest rates will help the economy. 31.1% of these young adults are more or much more confident in the housing market as a result of the Fed’s interest rate adjustment. 25.3% say the same about the economy overall along with 23.1% who show a boost of confidence in the job market. Members of Gen X, just one generation older, are less likely to be confident in all three areas:

Perhaps Gen Y is more confident because this age segment is the most likely to take advantage of lower interest rates. 61.2% of members of Gen Y plan to make some type of life change as a result of the Fed’s announcement: 22.4% say they are likely to buy a car, 20.9% are in the market for a home and 20.5% plan to go [back] to school. Most members of older generations do not plan to make any life changes at this time.

For more fresh insights on American consumers, including confidence in the economy, expectations for gas prices and even Election 2012 updates, be sure to check out the complimentary American Pulse™ InsightCenter!

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, September 2012 #2, N=3282

© 2012, Prosper®

The Not-So-Jolly Holiday Outlook for JC Penney Shoppers

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

2012 hasn’t been kind to JC Penney. And, it doesn’t appear that Q4 will get any better for the department store, which has struggled to shake up its stodgy image this year and in the process has rattled its core customer base. According to the Prosper Spending Index, JC Penney shoppers’ outlook for holiday gift spending falls below that of the general population, with an index of 95.9 (baseline index = 100).* Among JC Penney shoppers with holiday spending plans in mind, two in five (44.2%) plan to spend less on holiday gifts this year than they did for 2011, while fewer than one in ten (7.4%) plan to spend more.

As could be expected, the holiday spending outlook is similar among those shopping Walmart (index = 94.4). Still, a slightly larger proportion of shoppers at the discounter, known to cater to more cash-strapped, lower income households, plans to spend more for the upcoming holiday season (9.5%) compared to JC Penney shoppers (7.4%).

Among the customers analyzed, shoppers at Macy’s, a retailer which has arguably benefited from JC Penney’s EDLP strategy switch-up, maintain the most positive outlook on holiday gift spending, with a Prosper Spending Index of 110.9. TJ Maxx loyalists also hold a brighter-than-average outlook (index = 106.3). Target (102.4) and Kohl’s (101.0) shoppers’ holiday spending plans are in line with the overall average.

So we know JC Penney shoppers will be trying to cut back on their holiday gift spending this year, but just how do they intend to accomplish this?

Memo to Ron Johnson: Your shoppers (or what’s left of them) are still motivated to buy based on sales and coupons.

Among JC Penney customers, nearly half say they are shopping for sales more often (45.4%) and/or are clipping coupons (42.1%) in efforts to help balance their budgets – higher than the overall average. Among the retailers mentioned, Kohl’s shoppers – rabid for that Kohl’s Cash – are the only ones eclipsing both of these figures.

With economic uncertainty pervading consumer mindsets, today’s shoppers – JC Penney’s included – continue to possess an innate need to feel good about spending their hard earned dollars, particularly when it comes to spending on those not-so-essentials like gifts and apparel. And in shoppers’ “feel-good” toolkit are coupons, weekly promos, and special sales. These items are, of course, generally absent from JC Penney’s promotional strategy – setting the department store up for additional customer loss during the critical holiday season.

Think about it like this: getting a $60 sweater on sale for $30 is something to write home tweet about. Simply buying a sweater for the $30 ticket price? It’s a little ho-ho-hum.

* Holiday outlook insights are based on celebrants who have holiday spending plans in mind.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com as a contribution to the Prosper Now blog.

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