Moving On – Understanding the American Shopper in Post-recession Era

A shocking 52% of Americans are struggling to afford the necessities, and for many even that is a stretch, according to the WSL/Strategic Retail’s report How America Shops®: Megatrends 2012

However, American shoppers are moving on and coming back to shopping. After years of economic slowdown, retail sales are slowly rising although the defining word for this new era is “moderate.” We see shoppers who are wiser in the ways of extracting value, more reserved about how much they feel they need, and more moderate in their aspirations for material things. They have moved beyond the fear seen back in 2010 and have reached a new acceptance that allows them to return to shopping, but with limits.

For around half of the shoppers, that means just buying the basics or less; for the other half, it means being able to afford extras. But for all it means shopping differently now, using a variety of tricks to find the best values. For marketers and retailers, it means coming to grips with the cost-driven economy and figuring out how to distract shoppers from the price aspect. One significant shift occurs in the youth market (18-34), which shows the highest percentage of those who do not have enough money to cover their basic needs. This generational cohort is exposed to larger financial struggle, unlike those over 35 who were able to launch their careers a decade ago in good times.

In the post-recession era, it is all about price. Shoppers are using old and new tools to be sure they get the lowest price out there. Half and more of the surveyed women (women are still the primary shoppers in the households, while men shop for some household goods) now look for the lowest price on most purchased items, regularly use coupons to reduce costs, buy items that are on sale, and make an effort to search online for store discounts. A raising number of women use their mobile phone to search for a lower price before they buy.

“Moving on” is different for the affluent. If shoppers have a household income of $150,000 and more, they do not have to fundamentally re-think how they shop – they do not necessarily buy less or switch brands. However, that does not mean that they are indifferent to spending and value and will consider saving options.

The report’s discoveries define how companies will need to think about their businesses over the next three to five years, perhaps even longer. The best strategy for manufacturers is to have a double-edged approach to attract the limited dollars that middle and lower income groups have to spend, and a strategy to attract the extra spending dollars of the affluent.

How America Shops® reports are designed to help you define and create the right retail strategy as shoppers return to shopping, but with new rules and restrictions that influence what they buy and where they buy it. For more, see How America Shops®: Megatrends 2012.

This article is provided by WSL/Strategic Retail.

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