Consumers Still Spending, Only Differently

Sep 11, 2002
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Information Resources, Inc. has published results from its study, Consumer Shopping Trends Since September 11. The research including analysis of scan data and consumer panel information found that purchasing of consumer goods remains relatively strong although shopping behavior is being influenced by economic and national security concerns.

“Despite a downturn in many industries following September 11, consumers are continuing to purchase the CPG products they need to carry on with their everyday lives,” said Ed Kuehnle, group president, IRI North America. “Yet, they are still living with major uncertainty, which has impacted shopping behavior. Economic concerns have made them more value-conscious than ever, while safety concerns underlie their gravitation towards the comfortable and familiar, such as their favorite name brands.”

According to IRI’s research, 26 percent of consumers reported spending less after September 11. Not surprisingly, discounters have been the major beneficiaries of this belt tightening. Wal-Mart with 13.6 percent growth for the first six months of 2002 has contributed roughly half the increase in CPG.

Trips per household to food stores fell by 4.4 percent and drug stores fell 3.8 percent. Trips to Wal-Mart grew by 5.3 percent over the same period.

A number of food categories have been experiencing strong growth in the period since 9/11. Convenient meal solutions in refrigerated, frozen and shelf-stable categories “have been feeding America” according to IRI. Over one-third of consumers report that they have been staying at home more often since the attacks happened.

Non-foods were hit hard following 9/11 but sales in these categories have begun to pick up. New product introductions in battery-operated toothbrushes, disposable cleansing cloths and surface cleaning cloths have contributed to this growth.

Moderator’s Comment: Will consumer shopping behavior
change even further as the economic picture improves? If yes, how so?

Another study echoes many of the IRI research findings.
According to the National Retail Sales Estimate, consumer spending has grown
5.2% since last year. Growth for the previous year was 5.8 percent. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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