While the economy is forcing many consumers to make sacrifices in order to save a few bucks, a handful of must-have expenditures remain on the list. A recent survey conducted by BIGresearch found that Americans have redefined what's, "untouchable," and what is, "expendable," in their lives, as they adjust to the current economic climate, whether it is actually impacting them personally or feeding their fears.
According to the survey, an overwhelming majority (80.9 percent) believe that Internet access is off limits, and a large majority (64.1 percent) say the same of cell phone service. These shoppers also said that cable television is an untouchable expense. Discount shopping for apparel remains a priority for 43 percent of those surveyed; hair cuts and colors by 40 percent; eating at fast food restaurants, 36.6 percent, and a new pair of shoes, cited by 24 percent.
"The current economy has forced many Americans to find new ways to live and even shop," said Susan Reda, executive editor of Stores, the magazine of the National Retail Federation. "However, many consumers can't imagine life without the Internet, text messaging, and basic cable." While some items remain off limits, Americans have been scaling back. Such popular indulgences as facials and fine dining were found to be taking a back seat while people try to save money.
According to the survey, 92.2 percent of consumers believe luxury handbags are expendable. That is followed on the expendable list by satellite radio, which 90.9 percent said they could forego; specialty shopping for apparel, cited by 90.7 percent; high end cosmetics, 90.7 percent; maid service, 90 percent, and facials, 89.8 percent.
Despite common themes, differences exist among ages and genders in what people will and will not cut out of their budgets. For example, more women, 70 percent, versus 57.8 percent of men, find cell phone service untouchable. The survey also found that men seem to appreciate a new pair of jeans more than women by a ratio of 21.5 to 18.9 percent.
"Today's economy has had an impact on every American, and retailers are dealing with very different shoppers than they were one year ago," said Phil Rist, EVP of strategic initiatives for BIGresearch. "While many people have opted to trade down, some refuse to sacrifice certain luxuries, and are cutting items they feel are expendable in order to compensate."
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