Posts Tagged ‘practicality’

2011 Wrap-up + New Holiday Insights

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

For the final BIG Call of 2011, we presented new Holiday Insights (as reported here by the National Retail Federation) as well as 13 month snapshots for Consumer Confidence, Employment Outlook, Practical Purchasing, and Personal Finances.

Key Takeaways:

Consumer Confidence: It’s been a bumpy ride this year, but consumers are closing out 2011 with nearly the same perspective on confidence in a strong economy as they did 365 days ago. There’s still a long way to go, though, before consumers begin to have warm and fuzzy feelings about the economy again.

Employment: Although the official U.S. unemployment rate reached a two year low in November, consumers have a nearly identical outlook for the job market now as they did at the end of 2010. Concern for the job market is still very real, which will play into the decisions consumers make in 2012 regarding their debt, savings, and spending as well as who they plan to vote for in the upcoming Presidential election.

Practicality: While consumers feel roughly the same way that they did headed into 2011, times over the past 13 months have been tougher, yet they’ve been better, too. Cautious spending will likely stick around in the New Year.

Personal Finances: Paying down debt and decreasing overall spending remain the top financial goals, but the importance of increasing savings is growing as we close 2011. It looks like consumers will begin 2012 with a more fiscally conservative mindset than they did for the start of 2011.

Holiday: Fewer consumers have completed holiday shoppers compared to this time last year. As of the first week of December, one in three shoppers either hadn’t started yet or has completed less than 10% of their purchases. Since displacing credit cards in 2005, debit cards continue as the most popular payment method for the holiday season. It appears that consumers do seem to be continuing to make a conscious effort to stay off the credit cards and stay on budget.

To listen to the recorded webinar, click here.

© 2011, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

BIG Call – October 2011

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Slides from the October BIG Call are now available!

John Mariotti was our special guest speaker this month. You can view his take on the latest data, including Confidence, Practicality, Personal Finances, the 90 Day Outlook, and Holiday 2011 Spending, by clicking through the slide show below.

To listen to the recorded webinar, click here.

© 2011, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Consumer Intentions & Actions: April (Part 1)

This month, I will be reviewing the latest big insights on confidence, practicality, and personal finance, as well as some timely data on how rising gas prices are affecting consumer spending.

Consumer Intentions & Actions: April

  • The April Consumer Intentions & Actions survey was collected April 5th through the 12th and includes the thoughts of about 8500 consumers.
  • We’ll be taking a look at:
    • Consumer Confidence;
    • Practical Purchasing, Focus on Needs over Wants, and Budget Plans;
    • Financial Plans;
    • The Effects of Escalating Pump Prices;
    • Finally, we’ll take a BIG Forward Look with 90 day purchase plans;


I always kick off this discussion with Consumer Confidence, a key indicator of consumer’s overall mood and how willing they are to spend. Let’s take a look at this data over two different time periods.

This first chart displays a 13 month snapshot of those who are very confident or confident.

As you can see, we are now in the third consecutive month of decline, with 28.6% who are confident or very confident in the economy.

This current reading is four points below April 2010 sentiment.

Comparing data back to 2004, you can clearly see the toll that the economic downturn has taken on the consumer psyche.

A year ago, it may have appeared that confidence was on an upswing, that maybe this was a turning point for recovery. But now, it seems that any improvement in confidence a year ago was more of a blip on the radar screen.


As I’m sure that you can imagine, consumers who have little faith in our economy aren’t exactly big spenders when it comes to shopping.

Each month, we ask “In the last 6 months, have you made any of the following changes?” Those “changes” I have displayed within this chart are:

  • I have become more practical and realistic in my purchases, which is the dark blue trend line
  • In light blue is I focus more on what I NEED rather than what I WANT.
  • And then in green is I have become more budget conscious.

As you can see, each of these attributes saw a slight uptick from March, reflecting declining optimism in confidence. Interestingly, this month’s figures are slightly below those from April 2010, when confidence was four points higher than it is now.


How can this be explained? Perhaps it’s that while consumers maintain a gritty view toward the economy, they are willing to “give in” – on occasion – when it comes to spending.

  • Maybe it’s that $4 cup of coffee;
  • A new outfit purchased on the sale rack;
  • Or a Saturday evening out.
  • Whatever the guilty pleasure may be, don’t look for consumers to overindulge or revert to pre-recession spending anytime soon. Nearly half of consumers still contend they are spending practically and more so are just focused on the necessities.


Check back later this week when I will continue the Consumer Intentions & Actions discussion. Up next, financial planning, pump prices and a look forward into future purchase plans!

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