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Confidence Cools Off As Summer Heats Up + How Does the Stockholm Syndrome Relate to Savings?

June 27, 2012 1 comment

This month, my co-host for the BIG Call was John Mariotti, President/CEO & Founder of the Enterprise Group. John also currently serves as a Director on several corporate boards and is an award winning author.

For this month’s BIG Call, John supplemented our favorite data on confidence, employment, personal finances, and spending plans with his unique analysis and understanding of these topics.

Here’s what we talked about:
– Confidence in the economy cools off as summer heats up, marking the second consecutive month of decline
– Just 16% of consumers are calling for “fewer” layoffs – a figure that has decreased [i.e. grown more pessimistic] over the past two years
– Last month’s “dip” in practicality appears to have been a “blip” on consumers’ spending radar
– Why are consumers seemingly holding back when it comes to paying down debt or increasing their savings?
– Scary fact: One out of three consumers isn’t saving any income
– Improvements in 90 Day Outlook may not be as positive as they appear
How is JC Penney’s “Fair & Square” faring?

To listen to the recorded webinar, click here.

For the full, complimentary June 2012 BIG Call slide deck, please click here.

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

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – JUN-12 (N = 8760, 6/5 – 6/12/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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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.

Gen Y’s Financial Lessons from Forrest Gump

By now we all should be aware that Gen Y* is a group of savers. According to our May Monthly Consumer Survey, more than two in five (41.9%) of these youngsters maintain plans to pad their piggy banks over the next three months. This compares to fewer than a third of Gen-Xers (29.6%) and just one in five Boomers (22.9%). (Silents clock in at 14.8%, but you’ve got to account for the large proportion of retirees in this group.)

Planning to Increase Savings Over the Next 3 Months

Maybe Gen Y hasn’t taken on enough life “experience” in the form of children, mortgages, loans, credit, etc. to put paying down debt at the forefront of their financial priorities. Maybe Gen Y is still relying on $upport from their Boomer and Gen X parents while working their way up the pay scale. Or perhaps – having just experienced the Great Recession – Gen Y has learned a few lessons from its elder generations. Let’s examine some of these would-be lessons à la one of my faves, Forrest Gump.

[While I do realize that the oldest members of Gen Y were 11 when this classic hit the theaters, please…just humor me on this.]

Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Financial crisis, anyone? How about the housing meltdown, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, dot-com bubble, war in the Middle East, or rocketing oil prices? [OK, we should have been prepared for a few of those.] Utopian society we are not; on both macro- and micro-environmental levels, we are always going to have something to be worried about. The difference between Gen Y and its older counterparts, though, is that the youngsters seemed to be preparing themselves for life’s uncertainties by improving their financial foundation. When asked to compare their personal financial situation to the previous year, more Gen Y-ers called their monetary “better off” (27.4%) than “worse off” (25.8%). In each of the older generations, those “worse off” outweighed those “better off.” Nearly two in five Boomers (38.0%) say they are “worse off” financially compared to this time last year, while just 14.5% think they are “better off.”

Stupid is as stupid does. Consumers buying on credit drove much of the spending growth we saw in the pre-recession 2000. Keeping up with the Joneses and living beyond their means left a lot of families in a lurch – and unable to keep up with their bills once the value of their McMansions plummeted, credit card fees and interest rates ratcheted up, and pink slips put many on the unemployment line. “Save not squander” might be the Gen Y financial mantra, as more than two in five (42.8%) say they are saving enough for future needs. This figure eclipses the rate of the second-highest financially prepared generation (Silents, at 31.0%) by a full 38%. Just over one in four Gen X-ers feel they are contributing enough to their piggy banks, while Boomers are the least likely to feel secure in their savings.

I am Saving Enough for Future Needs

It happens. Is anyone 100% secure in their place of employment? Unfortunately, a high unemployment rate is currently a fact of life, and – let’s face it – the current 8.1% doesn’t account for those underemployed or discouraged workers. Gen Y may be having trouble securing their first jobs, working up the pay scale, and avoiding LOFO [last on first off] layoffs. But in the event that “it” does hit the fan, this generation is making the most of the income that they have – by saving at rates higher than any other group. Nearly half (45.4%) plan to save more than 10% of their annual income, much higher than Gen X-ers (31.3%) and Boomers (22.9%). Of course, this may in part be the result of fewer financial obligations [*coughs* mortgages…children], but at least Gen Y is consciously saving and not burning through their paychecks, right?

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Inspiration for this post wasn’t completely random…I recently visited the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Miami.

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

* Generations were defined for this analysis in the following manner:

Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

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.

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