Between October 26-29, 2001, Ipsos-Reid Express interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 US adults nationwide by telephone. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%. Questions asked of half the sample have a margin of error of 4.5%). To get a sense of people's current spending desires, if money were not a factor, a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide allocate a $1,000 windfall of unexpected cash across five spending categories in the latest Ipsos-Reid Express omnibus weekend survey, conducted Friday through Monday, October 26-29, 2001. The average American would distribute the windfall as follows (figures show the average amount allocated to each spending area, if required to spend all the money and only in these categories): Spending allocations of U.S. adults for an unexpected windfall of $1,000: For my next question, please imagine for a minute that you came upon $1,000 to spend on the following five types of items: home entertainment or electronics/home improvement/vacation or leisure travel/local entertainment/ clothing or other personal items. Assuming that you had to spend the $1,000 on these five items, and that you could spread the money over several categories or spend it all in one area, how much of the $1,000 would you spend on each? (Mean scores reported).
  • 36% Home improvement which includes renovations, furniture or major appliances;
  • 24% Vacation or leisure travel;
  • 15% Clothing or other personal items;
  • 15% Home entertainment or electronic products such as stereos, televisions, computers, cell phones, or upgrading the equipment you have;
  • 10% Local entertainment such as going to restaurants, movies, sporting events, or concerts.
"Americans are clearly in the mood for a release from the stress of mourning and uncertainty that has affected them for nearly two months," reports Edward Morawski of Ipsos-Reid U.S. Market Research in New York. "That's why the pattern of spending roughly reflects what overall average spending would be in these categories in normal times--big home ticket items and family travel cost more, while clothing, home electronics and local dining or entertainment tend to be the smaller ticket items. "We don't see in this distribution any wild swings toward or away from any form of spending. Vacation travel desire remains high--whether consumers have the money in the bank to afford vacations is another matter, unrelated to the terrorist attacks," Morawski reports. "The terrorist attacks will have an effect, but there is little effect on the underlying impulse of what consumers want to spend money on." "Their predominant impulse is to make home feel even homier, thus upping their comfort or security quotient. The second-most compelling way to spend such a windfall is on travel, perhaps reflecting a bit of escapism or desire to leave behind, temporarily, everyday life. Both home improvement and travel beat out either personal items or home electronics in terms of how people would spend unexpected money," says Morawski. In other findings:
  • Home electronics and entertainment remains a category strongly related to a sense of fun and thrills. Spending is greater on home entertainment and electronics rather than personal items and clothing among those looking more for exciting things to do, but these days that group represents just 15% of all Americans. (Even among 18-34 year olds, the most adventurous group, only 27% are looking for more exciting things to do and almost half, 49%, want to stay home more and spend time with family and friends.)
  • Desired spending allocations on home improvement and on travel exceed all other categories for these thrill-seekers, for their counterparts in the stay-at-home crowd, and for all other significant subgroups. That basic spending pattern division between big-ticket items and smaller-ticket items holds across all demographic groups, varying only by degree.
  • Three times as many (50%) say they are planning on staying home more rather than looking for exciting things to do. Among that stay-at-home crowd, spending would be greater on clothing and personal items rather than on home entertainment or electronic goods, if they came into an unexpected windfall and spent it.
  • There may be a continued slowdown on major purchases for some time, as 42% say now is a time to hold off on major purchases, while 31% say they are more likely to make decisions about major purchases, and 27% volunteer that they are unaffected because they have no need to make decisions on major purchases at this time.
  • Few people (15%) have changed Thanksgiving plans as a result of the terrorist attack, and people are four times more likely to change plans to seek out get-togethers with friends and family (12%) rather than avoid Thanksgiving travel out of fear in the current environment (3%).

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