March 18th, 2009
06:00 AM ET
9 years ago

POLL: Americans scale back on purchases

WASHINGTON DC (CNN)– A new national poll indicates that six in ten Americans postponed a major purchase such as appliances or furniture over the past six months.

Sixty-two percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning say they’ve postponed a major purchase. That’s up 10 points from December, during the height of the Christmas shopping season.

“Think increased consumer spending will rescue the economy? Think again,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Cutbacks in major purchases are the same for rich as well as poor Americans.”

The poll also suggests just how hard times are for many households. One in three respondents said they’ve cut back on necessities such as food or medicine over the past six months due to changes in the economy.

“That hits lower-income households the hardest: a majority of those making less than $25,000 a year say they have cut back on food or medicine. But even a quarter of those making more than $50,000 say they have had to cut back on necessities,” adds Holland.

Nearly six in ten people questioned also say they’ve cut back on purchasing clothing over the past six months because of the recent changes in economic conditions.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday, with 1,019 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. obama-mama

    We're all going to be living like we're on Little House on the Praire.Life was so much simpler then.

    March 18, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. LIP

    While everyone is scaling back on purchases, pause for a moment and reflect on how we got to this point.
    Better yet, go to You Tube and type in "banking oversight" in the search box. There you will find all the evidence you need to illustrate how we got here. Videos of Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd and Charles Schumer denying W. and McCain when they asked for oversight starting in 2001, twice in 2003, 2005 and again in 2006.
    Now Dodd had an opportunity to stop the bonuses for AIG and said it wasn't necessary and look how busy he is at pointing the finger at AIG and condemning them. Beware of "He who protesteth to much".

    March 18, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Sarah

    My finances (and I am sure alot of others) have been this way since 2001, no change for me. The only reason the country is in an uproar about it now is because it is affecting the rich (Buffet, etc). Otherwise no one would give a crap like no one has for the last 8 years. Welcome to MY LIFE!

    March 18, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  4. Bob

    Come to Louisiana. Things are booming and people are spending. We are adding jobs every month.

    March 18, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. Sniffit

    What's funny is that this is considered a bad thing, when we probably should have been doing it anyway. Our society's addiction to personal debt has us wandering around like crack addicts looking for the next thing we can buy, use for 15 minutes, grow bored and then stick in a know, because another commercial came on the tube and told us we postively need something else that will do the same thing, but look shinier while doing it. We're like fish in a barrel to corporate America, mesmerized by all the shiny baubles they've dangled in front of us, while they line up the credit cannon to anihilate our existence when we helplessly float to the surface to grab one of their twinkling crack rocks.

    March 18, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. Greedy CEOs of America

    Its time to start spending America! I have a warehouse full of chinese goods I need to sell you so I can move the entire wealth of our country into my off shore bank account.

    March 18, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. Lisa, Saugus MA

    Well I don't think that those numbers will change on our extra $13 in our paychecks.

    Instead of bailing out companies who are greedily robbing us the taxpayer blind, they should send us the bailout money and let us stimulate the economy the way it should be. Give us enough money to purchase a bedroom set or a washing machine. $13 buys a 1/2 tank of gas...period!

    March 18, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Sniffit

    "...have had to cut back on necessities"

    You know, things like $3.50 lattes that taste like crap but look posh in their designer cardboard cup, a new landboat to replace the one bought 3 years ago because it just isn't right to bring the kids to soccer practice in an "outdated" vehicle when the other soccer moms have the latest model...and don't forget food brands that cost twice as much as others because they have the word "organic" on them and are sold at a supermarket with a catchy "earthy" name like "Bountiful Harvest" or some such nonsense. Yeah...perhaps you should spend some time defining "necessities" as it was used and understood in this poll.

    March 18, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. tawain

    If the taxpayers own AIG how come the taxpayers don't get bonus too? You know it's a lot of people would work for AIG with the big bonuses, in fact would work for just 25% of their salary.

    March 18, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  10. april

    Really, what a surprise–when 12.5 million people are unemployed, tent cities popping up everywhere as people lose their homes, food banks running out of food and emergency rooms filled with uninsured people-we really needed a poll.

    March 18, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. Shari, NY

    When people have to cut back of food and medicine then we have really hit rock bottom. Here's a tip to save on food – clip and use coupons. I personally save on average $10 each week when I use food coupons because some supermarkets will double and even triple the savings. Also, buy in bulk especially when things are on sale. Lastly, if you qualify for Food Bank giveaways – go for it.

    March 18, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  12. Karl Rove

    Sad part is the majority of these people supported Bush and the Repubs who created their current financial woes... and maybe still support Repubs.

    March 18, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. Dave in NYC

    Last six months? Try the last 4 years! I haven't purchased anything major the entire second term that Bush was in office. The economy has been bad for most of us for at LEAST 4 years... and now people are only beginning to notice?

    March 18, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. Ron L

    This is OLD NEWS...we really don't need more information on how bad things are. What we need is information on ANY IMPROVEMENTS, like any new jobs that start from the stimulus package! We all already know that the ecomomy is sucking for a good 25% of Americans.

    March 18, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. P. Y.

    @ Brian Crooks
    I agree with you and I am a lot older than you. People just got carried away. They were always going out buying the newest model TV, computer, IPod, etc. Cars never more than 3 years old. Bigger houses ! That is insanity and maybe in the long run we will have learned something. One can only hope ! Out politicians are not to blame for all of this. It is us, the " ME " generation that did this to ourselves.

    March 18, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. RealityKing

    We're preparing for the inevitably large tax increases..., in this time of crisis in our confidence.

    March 18, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  17. gl, Pittsburgh

    March 18th, 2009 7:18 am ET

    i don't even window shop anymore.

    I don't even go out at lunch any more let alone windon shopping.

    March 18, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. thomas

    Who has money to buy anything? The wealth of America was sucked up by corporate executives only to be squandered by risky investments and bad policy. The economy will remain stagnant until their ill gotten gains are pried from their cold withered hands.

    March 18, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. Texas Annie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    Maybe if the media would quit scaring people to death every single day, then maybe people would go out and spend a few dollars. We WILL get through this.
    And to aliou FL (6:44 a.m.) - why do you just pick out the "rich" to encourage to go "spend"? If it's the "patriotic thing to do", then shouldn't EVERYONE participate. It doesn't have to be your life savings– if everybody would just put a dollar or two back in the economy, it would start to make a difference. I seriously doubt too many "rich" every stopped spending too much in the first place.

    March 18, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Scott, Tucson

    Well this news is a no brainer!

    March 18, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. Mississippi Mike

    I'm as wealthy as ever but I'm stashing my cash under my mattress because I can't think of any possible reality where taxes won't be increased to pay for the rapid expansion of government organizations and wasteful bailouts. My theory is: if my money isn't easily found by the government, they won't be able to take it from me it until they serve a search warrant to confiscate my legally purchased and registered fire-arms.

    March 18, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. Frank in Phoenix

    Pelosi, Dodd, Frank, et al are all crooks, and not even bright crooks at that. They got us into this mess and their solution is to govt spending and taxation to get us out.
    We're dead meat!

    March 18, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. DP

    It is not funny when China is warning us to quit issuing so many securities because it is downgrading the value of their investment in US debt. The bailouts and budgets need to end right now. Government needs to go to a basic needs funding program and everything else gets dropped. Cities can curb costs by setting up trash collection sites rather than going to each house. This actually might make people think more about what they are throwing away to minimize trips. States can cut the red tape. The Fed needs to just drop all of the excessive 1200 plus programs and start over.

    March 18, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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