Even The Big Spenders Are Worried
What a difference a few months make, earlier this year, I attended the Luxury Summit and heard research from American Express Publishing and Harrison Group. Now they've done a follow-up and the news is far grimmer. Their new research finds that 71 percent of America's affluent and wealthy consumers (10 percent of American families) say that real estate and banking crisis has affected their sense of financial security and the value of their assets. Now nearly 6 in 10 survey respondents are now worried about running out of money, including 48 percent of America's wealthiest families (a number up from 35 percent in April).
In a survey conducted on September 19-23, 614 affluent individuals discussed how the recent economic turmoil is affecting their financial and spending plans and revealed that 75 percent of the respondents believe the country is now in a recession. And how's this for a depressing fact, just fifty-five percent of the wealthy respondents are optimistic about their own future, down from 93 percent in 2005. Just one-quarter of respondents are now upbeat about the future of America while 60 percent were in 2005. This is big news for everyone because as Jim Taylor, vice chairman of Harrison Group points out, the top 10 percent represents over 50 percent of all retail spending. They are the ones who have kept the consumer economy afloat even as the middle class slowed spending dramatically.
One bright note is that 20 percent of American families are reducing gift giving so that they can donate to charity this holiday season. People are shopping with more thought and an eye toward saving. Many now wait for sales and are buying less. It's not great news for the retailers but it does seem a smart tactic in this economy.