Surveys: Rich Worrying About Wealth, Spending Less

A raft of new surveys offers up evidence that rich Americans are more worried than before about their economic futures and that their curtailed spending habits may outlast the recession.

A new study out today from American Express Publishing and Harrison Group of 1,500 consumers, with discretionary annual income of at least $100,000, showed that 53 percent of respondents are worried they’ll run out of money—up from 48 percent in October 2008 and up from 35 percent in April 2008.

The survey further showed the rich continuing to cut back their spending on fashion, cars, luxuries and jewelry, with only travel spending ceasing to decline on a quarter-by-quarter basis.  

A new survey out earlier this week from Unity Marketing, meanwhile, shows that the rich feel more optimistic about their financial future than they did three months ago. At the same time, more than 40 percent said they planned to cut spending on luxuries in the next 12 months, suggesting that even when the recession ends, conspicuous consumption’s decline may have a lasting effect.

A separate study commissioned by Condé Nast’s GQ magazine revealed that men are buying less but reluctant to skimp on quality.

Respondents said they were staying in rather than going out, but 70 percent said they expected to spend the same or more on wine and spirits; 71 percent intended to keep spending to maintain personal appearance; and 94 percent said they would rather spend more on high-quality, long-lasting products than cheaper ones.

The survey included more than 500 men with a median age of 37 and was fielded online in February by Mediamark Research & Intelligence.