Mature Consumers Less Likely to Cut Back

March 15, 2011

harris-spending-cutbacks-past-six-months-by-age-mar11.gifAlthough they are more likely to be on a fixed income, mature US consumers age 66 and older are less likely than younger consumers to have cut back spending in many areas during the last six months than their younger counterparts, according to new Harris Poll data. Lower rates of cutting back on spending for three of these activities, brown-bagging lunch, buying a morning coffee, and carpooling, may reflect the lower percentage of mature consumers in the workforce.

Matures Reduce Spending Less in Many Areas

In addition to these three work-related areas, Matures are less likely to be going to a hairdresser or barber less often (32% compared to 38% overall and to 41% for Gen Xers (aged 35-46); to have cancelled or cut back cable TV (13% compared to.18% overall and 26% Echo Boomers age 18-34), cancelled landline phone services (4% compared to 16% overall and 24% of Echo Boomers), cut cell phone services (6% compared to 14% overall and 19% of Echo Boomers), or switch to refillable bottles of water (28% compared to 35% overall and 40% of Echo Boomers).

Matures also tie with Echo Boomers as being least likely to have canceled a newspaper subscription (15%, compared to 16% overall and 17% of Baby Boomers age 47-65.

Matures Willing to Cut Magazines, Dry Cleaning

Despite these generally less thrifty ways, Matures are by far the most likely of any group to report having canceled one or more magazine subscriptions (42%, compared to 34% overall and 23% of Gen Xers). Matures also report the second-highest rate of cutting back on dry cleaning (23%), slightly trailing Baby Boomers (24%) and ahead of both the overall average (21%) and the least likely to cut dry cleaning group, Echo Boomers (18%).

Cuts in Coffee, Landline Phone Spending Stand Out

harris-spending-cutbacks-past-six-months-mar11.gifFor the most part, the percentage of overall consumers reporting various cost-cutting measures has changed minimally or remained flat since February 2009. Two cost-cutting measures show significant growth in the past two years, while no measure has substantially declined during that time period.

The percentage of consumers stopping purchasing coffee in the morning has risen 40% since February 2009, from 15% to 21%. And the percentage of consumers canceling landline phone service to only use a cell phone has risen 45%, from 11% to 16%.

Gallup: Spending Up Slightly in Feb.

Overall self-reported daily US consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $61 per day in February 2010, according to results of a recent Gallup poll. That is up slightly from $58 in January and $59 in February 2010, but still in the 2009-2010 “new normal” spending range and 42% below the $106 average of February 2008.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between February 14 to 21, 2011 among 3,171 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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