Wealthiest Consumers Not Ready To Spend

Last Updated Sep 4, 2009 2:07 PM EDT

Affluent consumers aren't happy and not likely to provide retailers with the kind of spending boost needed to help propel them out of the recession. According to a study by BIGresearch, consumers with household incomes of $100,000 and more, weighed by concerns about the ailing economy, healthcare reform and other uncertainties, are holding back on spending. In the study, 47 percent of households earning $100,000 to $149,000 report they are more practical in their purchases currently versus 39 percent last year, while 43 percent report they are more budget conscious versus 33 percent a year ago. This year, 21 percent of those households report they only buy clothes on sale, 29 percent are using coupons more and 23 percent are purchasing additional private label and generic brands versus 16 percent, 24 percent and 16 percent respectively last year.

Among households earning $150,000 or more, 50 percent report they are more practical in their purchases currently versus 32 percent last year, while 44 percent report they are more budget conscious versus 25 percent a year ago. This year, 15 percent of such households report they only buy clothes on sale, 31 percent are using coupons more and 20 percent are purchasing additional private label and generic brands versus 14 percent, 15 percent and seven percent respectively an annum earlier.

Upper income consumers in the survey characterized themselves as less wealthy than a year ago at this time with 55 percent of those earning incomes of $100,000 to $149,000 asserting that they feel less prosperous versus 12 percent who say more. A tad under half of consumers with incomes of $150,000 plus asserted that they are less wealthy, versus 22 percent who said more.

With the end of year holiday season approaching, it's interesting to note that 34 percent of households with incomes of $100,000 to $149,000 and 28 percent of those with incomes $150,000 or more plan to spend less on gifts than last year while only two percent and five respectively plan to spend more. One bright spot identified by the report: consumer confidence among the wealthiest, which had been trending down over the past two years, bounced back in four of the last five months.