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Consumer Confidence in Personal Finances Up, Though Consumers are Still Cautious

Posted: May 1, 2012

Consumers’ confidence in their personal finances is rebounding, reports SymphonyIRI Group’s latest MarketPulse survey. However, consumers remain cautious about their financial future and will continue to ramp up and/or maintain their conservative shopping behaviors this year. In addition, the survey uncovered that the nation’s 85 million moms have a sunnier outlook on the future compared to the general population.

“Americans have certainly been on an economic roller coaster ride for the past few years, so it is no surprise to anyone that they will not forgo their frugal ways even though they may feel a bit more confident about their bank accounts,” says Susan Viamari, editor, Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI. “They are opening their wallets a bit more these days, but they are still making lists and clipping coupons, so the key for CPG marketers is to demonstrate the value of their products to consumers.”

Financial Optimism Springs Back Slowly

Consumers’ confidence about their personal financial situations is rebounding in Q1 2012, after slipping in Q2 and Q3 of 2011 and inching up slightly at the end of last year. Today, 19% of consumers feel their financial position has improved during the past year, 40% feel it has remained unchanged and 41% feel it has deteriorated. While these are not glowing statistics, it is the most optimistic outlook seen since Q1 2011.

However, when consumers were asked about their expectations regarding personal finances for the coming year, they were not as positive compared to one year ago. According to the MarketPulse survey:

  • 28% of consumers in Q1 2012 expect improvement in their personal finances during the coming year versus 33% in Q1 2011
  • 46% feel the same about their personal finances today versus one year ago
  • 26% of consumers in Q1 2012 expect their personal finances will deteriorate during the coming year versus 20% in Q1 2011.

Conservative Shopping Behaviors Remain Top of Mind

Shoppers are still looking for a good deal and are putting the time and energy needed into finding the right product for the right price. For instance:

  • 71% of shoppers in Q1 2012 are still make shopping lists at home versus 67% in Q1 2011
  • 56% of shoppers in Q1 2012 are choosing stores based on lower prices offered versus 52% in Q1 2011
  • 62% of shoppers in Q1 2012 look at store circulars before entering the store versus 56% in Q1 2011.