Study: Consumers resetting, not recovering

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Port Washington, N.Y. A study released Wednesday by market research firm NPD Group found that consumers are focused not as much on recovering from the economy as they are “resetting.”

"Overall, consumers have reached this new equilibrium of spending and making decisions about things like groceries and apparel and electronics and automotive," Dee Warmath, senior VP/Retail Insights for NPD, told Marketing Daily. "The pie has shrunk, so each category is competing with another. So while there is a roving release of pent-up demand, there's not an overall increase in spending."

NPD interviewed about 71,000 consumers across eight categories, reviewing approximately 60 retailers and 75 brands per category in the Retail & Brand Landscape Report, which ranks each in terms of shopper engagement, shopper priorities and shopper impressions.

The report found that the recession has sharpened consumer focus on value. The results registered plenty of instances of people trading down, especially in terms of store channels, but most changes were temporary.

"There were segments of consumers who were very worried about cash flow and were willing to give up things that mattered to them, and so they shifted down to a certain category of store. But when there wasn't another shoe dropping, they went back to their old patterns -- a more balanced value equation," Warmath said.