Americans Not Spending, Don’t Plan To: Harris Poll

People are still focused on cutting expenses

Results of a Harris Poll released Monday showed that, regardless of any positive indicators in the rest of the economy, Americans weren’t buying it. In fact, they’re not buying much of anything, nor did they plan to.

In the seventh incarnation of poll questions related to spending that Harris has conducted since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008, people have not changed their feelings much about spending or the probability that they will have more money to spend on things like computers, vacations, or moving to a new residence. Most results, according to Harris, are pretty much unchanged for the last 18 months.

Nearly two thirds of respondents say that they expect to spend less on eating out (66%)—not good news for the restaurant industry—and entertainment (62%)—not good news for theaters and other amusements.

A bit more than half, 52%, said they expected to invest or save more; according to Harris, this is virtually unchanged for the entire two years of the poll. Many of the other responses are unchanged since May of 2009.

There are, however, three small bright spots, says Harris. People expecting to buy a new house or condo, a boat or RV, or start a business are all up—7% in May to 10% now for those planning a new home; boat and RV optimists have doubled from 3% to 6%; and prospective entrepreneurs have risen from 6% to 10%. However, that last could be a factor of unemployment, since many who cannot find jobs have started their own businesses and become self-employed out of necessity. Others may be planning similar strategies.

The poll was conducted online between September 14 and September 20.

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