U.S. Consumers Choosing Not to Spend

From SeekingAlpha.com (7/1/09)

US consumers have responded to the global economic crisis by curtailing their expenditures, paying down debt, and saving more—all logical responses to a recession. Yet most consumers have acted by choice, not necessity, according to McKinsey. Spending, saving, and debt averages are not at abnormal levels today but rather returning to long-term trends.

It was the behavior of US consumers during the past two decades, our research shows, that was the aberration. The return to traditional spending patterns will cause companies to adjust to a fundamentally altered playing field.

In a McKinsey survey conducted in March 2009, 90 percent of the US respondents said that their households had reduced spending as a result of the recession—33 percent of them “significantly” so. The survey, which included 600 households in three consumer segments comprising around 40 percent of all US homes, found that 45 percent of those who reduced spending did so by necessity, 55 percent by choice.

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