Semi-Confident Consumers

Determined not to let the terrorists alter our way of life, we’ll continue spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need. At least, a majority of us will, unless the economy really tanks in the months ahead. A poll by Knowledge Networks (as summarized on the WorldOpinion Web site) finds 77 percent of Americans saying their “willingness to make a major purchase in the next six months has not changed.” Likewise, polling by Roper ASW finds 61 percent of U.S. adults “expect to buy at the same level through the end of this year as they did at the end of 2000,” while an intrepid 10 percent expect to increase their buying. Not content to leave economic stimulus in Alan Greenspan’s hands, half the respondents to a Harris Poll declared they’d gone out “and spent money in a conscious effort to support the American economy.” But what if a lousy economy compels people to pare their spending? The chart, drawing on data from the Roper ASW poll, indicates their hierarchy of austerity. And irrespective of the economy, fears about terrorism mean about one-fifth of that poll’s respondents are less likely to attend sports events/concerts, use public transit or shop at malls.