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Posts Tagged ‘rising gas prices’

Have You Been Briefed for May?

Early each month, we release our Executive Briefing – complimentary topline insights from our latest Monthly Consumer Survey of more than 8,000 consumers.

May 2012 BIG Executive Briefing

Click to view this month’s Executive Briefing

Yesterday marked the release of our edition for May. Here’s what you may have missed:

The bloom is off the rose for Consumer Confidence…we saw signs of dampening sentiment in April (when confidence flatlined after five consecutive months of improvement), but sentiment for the economy declined two points from last month.

Nearly half maintains a penchant toward pragmatic spending, but this has declined four points from April. This figure remains elevated from May-11 and May-10, suggesting that market uncertainties (unemployment, gas prices, economic health, etc.) are still influencing spending.

While plans to decrease overall spending have lowered from the extreme we saw in April, cutting back remains at the fiscal forefront.

Drivers are anticipating an average price of $3.95/gal as we approach Memorial Day, lowering from the $4.17/gal expected at the end of April. Despite the recent declines in the cost of fueling up, the vast majority of consumers say their spending in other areas is still impacted by prices at the pump.

The Women’s Clothing battle is too close to call this month…after three consecutive turns as the leader in this category, Kohl’s shares the top spot with Walmart in May.

Are there cracks in Home Depot’s foundation? We examine the big builder and its competition in this month’s Consumer Migration Index.

Is Mom in for a treat on May 13? Six month purchase intentions are on the rise for all on our BIG Tickets items this month compared to May-11. A Mother’s Day favorite – Jewelry – is up 30%+ from last year.

– Move over Iron Man…Marvel’s The Avengers is no match for our favorite nonagenarian.

To sign up to receive the monthly BIGinsight™ Executive Briefing, please click here.

And, to view the latest BIG Executive Briefing in its entirety: May 2012.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAY-12 (N = 8789, 5/2 – 5/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Why Are Shoppers So Glum About Spending?

April 16, 2012 3 comments

As we recently reported in our April BIG Executive Briefing, two in five consumers (39.8%) say they plan to decrease overall spending over the next three months…that was April’s top financial priority, dethroning the usual intent to pay down debt (34.7% in Apr-12).

Forty percent actively attempting to curtail their expenditures is a big number. So big, in fact, that we’ve only approached this figure three times in the past SEVEN years. Researching this a bit further, it was pretty easy to tie a piece of history to each of the three previous peaks: Hurricane Katrina, the Summer ’08 Record High Gas Prices, and Holiday ’08 (see chart below, but don’t strain your brain…I’ll break it down in a second). Because two of these three events had at least a little something to do with pump prices, I added in the average price per gallon of gas during the week of our survey collection, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Plans to Decrease Overall Spending v. Average Price Per Gallon of Gas

Now, let’s break this down historically:

Hurricane Katrina: When this natural disaster slammed into the Gulf states in Aug-05, we were all affected nationwide. New Orleans, et al were literally adrift, slow response times left victims with prolonged suffering [*coughs* FEMA], and price per gallon of gas soared to $3 [ah, $3/gal…how I miss thee]. By September, consumers were responding with their spending sentiment: 40.0% were planning to decrease overall expenditures. As you can see in the chart though, as pump prices edged back downward, consumers backed off this conservative fiscal mantra.

Summer ’08 Gas Price Highs: According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, pump prices hit an all-time high on July 17, 2008, at $4.114/gal. By now we were also in the belly of the recession, and 39.2% of consumers reacted with plans for spending cutbacks. And though gas prices bottomed-out by Holiday 2008, consumer spending plans didn’t respond in kind #thankyoubankfailures

Holiday ’08: It’s safe to say that the Holiday 2008 shopping season was a disaster. The severe spending cutbacks that materialized with shoppers were not anticipated by retailers, who were left deeply discounting the massive amounts left on their store shelves pre- and post-holiday. More than two in five consumers (42.9%) rang in New Year 2009 with resolutions to decrease overall spending, a record high. So – obviously – it’s not always gas prices that ignite spending cutbacks among consumers…sometimes, you can blame it on a recession.

Furthering the point that pump prices aren’t always that culprit, when the cost of fueling up topped off at over $4/gal last May, drivers didn’t have a fiscal knee-jerk reaction. While at the time consumers were bracing for a $4.25/gal price by Memorial Day ’11, that never materialized and plans to decrease overall spending continued to fluctuate in a relatively [new] “normal” 30% to 35% range.

So what’s different this year? Average gas prices have crossed that $4/gal threshold again, and 39.8% have responded with plans to cut back. Have consumers just had enough? Are they tired of dealing with pump prices in addition to the inflating price tags on apparel, food, and other household items? Are they not willing to tap into their hard-earned savings to cover the additional costs of fueling up? Are they hedging on a response [or lack thereof] from Capitol Hill?

At any rate I think it’s safe to say that if gas prices don’t cool off as summer heats up, retailers might be in for a spending drought.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Like the timeline infused with BIG data? Be sure to sign up for complimentary access to our Vital Signs InsightCenter™, an advanced platform for the visualization and delivery of insights and answers on how consumers in the U.S. are reacting to key economic events. It illustrates how consumers feel about the economy, changes they make in their lives in reaction to the economic situation, and how their personal financial and spending plans are affected by key events. It goes beyond traditional point-in-time data reports to trended insights in one easy-to-use, decision-ready format.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – APR-12 (N = 8724, 4/3 – 4/10/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Up, Up, and Away: Consumers Talk Rising Prices

April 4, 2012 2 comments

Consumers are still hyped up over inflated prices on many common household purchases, including food and gasoline, according to the latest results from BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey.

In our March survey, we asked our 9,000+ respondents the direction they felt prices were headed for items like children’s clothing, electronics, jeans, and of course the aforementioned food and fuel. We then tabulated this data (asked on a 5 point Likert scale, from “Significantly Less” to “Significantly More”) into our easy-to-read Diffusion Index, and – voila! – another informative blog post.

Let’s start with the hard facts:
– We asked about a broad range of products, from different types of apparel to items found around the home to staples. We are serving up a sampling of the results here.
– None of the items we price-checked with consumers ended up with a negative Diffusion Index (i.e. there was no consensus that any one item was more likely to decline in price rather than rise).
– FYI: an index of zero would mean that the vote was split on the decline-or-rise debate.

How do you expect prices will change over the next 6 months for the following items?Probably not-so-surprisingly, consumers pegged Gasoline as the item most likely to pump up in price over the next six months (index = 70.4), while Food followed with a nearly as impressive score (index = 63.2). Concerns with textile prices are still evident with more consumers [than not] anticipating that the cost of a pair of jeans or a fashion top will elevate this year.

What might be most surprising about this data? Among all of the items that we surveyed, Electronics received the lowest index (at 29.4). But that Apple iPad 2 can now be had for $399, right?

The key takeaway here is that consumers are hedging against rising prices – meaning that they will curb spending in other areas to compensate. While confidence did uptick in March, we also saw rising proclivities toward practicality and saving. Stay tuned for next week when we reveal how consumers are coping in April.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAR-12 (N = 9242, 3/6 – 3/13/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

“Save-not-Squander” + More on The Changing American Consumer

March 30, 2012 1 comment

I co-hosted the March BIG Call with a very special guest, Dr. Marianne Bickle, Chair and Director for the Center for Retailing, University of South Carolina. Armed with BIGinsight™ data, Marianne authored the new book, The Changing American Consumer (more on that in a second).

For the first half of the call, I presented new insight from our March Monthly Consumer Survey, which included:
– A rise in Consumer Confidence for the fifth consecutive month
– Fizzling spending with Practicality, Focus on Needs heating up
– The “Save-not-Squander” financial mantra
The Pain at the Pump predicament
– A BIG Forward Look at 90 day spending plans

For the second half of the Call, Marianne presented NEW findings on the Fast Food industry (which has been a hot topic lately…see also here, here, and here). Using our BIG data, Marianne analyzed consumer trends in Fast Food – by income, census region, and gender – and brought everything full circle with a discussion on The Changing American Consumer.

To listen to the recorded webinar, click here.

 

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAR-12 (N = 9242, 3/6 – 3/13/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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