WSL/Strategic Retail Study: More Than 1 in 2 Americans Can Barely Afford Basics

thinkstock.com/Pixland collection

Fifty-two percent of Americans are struggling to afford necessities—and for many even that is a stretch, according to WSL/Strategic Retail in its “How America Shops MegaTrends" report, "Moving On 2012.”

Other significant findings by WSL/Strategic Retail, which is a leading authority on shopper behavior and retail trends, in its newest report that was released on March 1:

The youth market—18- to 34-year-olds—has the highest percent of those who do not have enough money to cover their basic needs, with close to a quarter of them in financial turmoil. The demographic is no longer "retail's golden ticket." Also, the group is believed to be a long way from recovery, compelling retailers to rethink their strategies.

Shoppers are placing a greater focus on price, with two-thirds of women agreeing that trusted brand names are not worth paying more for. More than a quarter of them admit that while they used to buy brand names they could not afford, they are no longer giving in to this indulgence.

Nearly 30% of Americans in the $100,000- to $150,000-income bracket claim that they can only afford the basics. In addition, six figure-income shoppers are now identifying themselves as "middle-income."

Additionally:
• 75% of women now say that it's important to get the lowest price on everything they buy
• 68% regularly use coupons to reduce costs
• 45% state that they only buy items that are on sale
• 43% make a point to search online for store discounts before they shop
• 14% of women say they use their mobile phones while in-store to see if they can find a lower price before they buy

“Look, American shoppers are moving on and coming back to shopping, but at their own pace,” says Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL/Strategic Retail. “As a result, retail sales are precarious and likely to fluctuate up one month, down the next. That’s not going to change any time soon. Brands and retailers cannot ignore this. They will need to rethink the way they do business over the next three to five years—or longer.”

Candace Corlett, president of WSL/Strategic Retail, adds, "The youth market, which has traditionally been known for its enthusiastic spending of discretionary income, has virtually dried up."

WSL/Strategic Retail's report is based on an Internet survey from Dec. 1 through Dec. 12, 2011, and included 1,950 respondents drawn from a nationally representative online sample.

For more information or to purchase the report, email info@wslstrategicretail.com or call 212.924.7780.

[Image: thinkstock.com/Pixland collection]