NRF Survey: What Consumers Won’t Live Without

National Retail Federation logoAn overwhelming majority of consumers said they believe that the internet (80.9%) and cell phone service (64.1%) are simply off limits when it comes to making sacrifices in this tough economy, according to a National Retail Federation survey.

Shoppers also said that cable television (60.5%), discount shopping for apparel (43%), hair cuts and colors (40%), eating at fast-food restaurants (36.6%), and a new pair of shoes (24%) were on their list of untouchables, according to the survey conducted by BIGresearch and featured exclusively in the February issue of STORES magazine.

“The current economy has forced many Americans to find new ways to live and even shop,” said Susan Reda, executive editor of STORES magazine. “However, many consumers can’t imagine life without the Internet, text messaging, and basic cable.”

While some items remain off-limits, Americans have been scaling back, with popular indulgences like facials and fine dining taking a back seat while people try to save money. According to the survey, 92.2 percent of consumers believe luxury handbags are expendable, followed by satellite radio (90.9%), specialty shopping for apparel (90.7%), high-end cosmetics (90.7%), maid service (90%), and facials (89.8%).

Despite common themes, differences exist among ages and genders in what people will and will not cut out of their budgets. For example, more women (70%) find cell phone service untouchable than men (57.8%), but more men find fine dining untouchable than women (12.3% vs. 9.1%). The survey also found that men (21.5%) seem to appreciate a new pair of jeans more than women (18.9%). Additionally, more 18-34 year olds find hair cuts or colorings expendable (69.9%) than 35-54 year olds (57.8%), though both age groups agree they cannot live without the use of their cell phone (64.8% of 18-34 year olds vs. 64.4% of 35-54 year olds).