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Higher-income households wait for apparel sales: report

Top earners are especially aware of “retailer promotional patterns” in clothing, according to the Spring 2024 Consumer Sentiment Survey from Alvarez & Marsal.

Higher-income households wait for apparel sales: report

A person holds shopping bags. Higher income households tend to wait for apparel sales, according to the Spring 2024 Consumer Sentiment Survey from Alvarez & Marsal. Liudmila Chernetska via Getty Images

Dive Brief:

  • Higher-income households are more likely to wait for apparel and footwear sales before purchasing compared to lower-income earners, according to the Alvarez & Marsal Consumer and Retail Group Spring 2024 Consumer Sentiment Survey.
  • The report, which based its findings on a survey of more than 1,800 U.S. consumers, found that consumers in households earnings between $100,000 and $150,000 were more likely to “show awareness of retailer promotional patterns” in apparel because it’s one of the categories that goes “on sale more frequently than say Jewelry & Accessories, which follows a more traditional sales pattern.”
  • Online consumer spring shopping surges for apparel and footwear, and jewelry and accessories are also notable across all income groups. These consumer shopping surges are especially strong “among individuals aged 36-80,” per the report, which added that “seasonal events, such as spring wardrobe refreshes” could be a factor.

Dive Insight:

The latest Alvarez & Marsal consumer survey focused on optimism, shopping intentions, purchase plans and preferred shopping channels, and found there has been a “decline in consumer confidence for the upcoming spring and summer seasons.”

In particular, consumers plan to spend 12% less on both apparel and footwear in the coming six months. Shoppers are cutting down on their spending in every category, which “implies that consumers are exercising greater financial caution across the spectrum, building on initial signals of caution observed in Fall ‘23,” per the report.

High earners in particular said they intended “to reduce spending across almost all categories” although “their expectations regarding recession and inflation remain largely stable,” per the report.

The biggest decrease in “willingness to spend” came from consumers in households earning more than $100,000, per the report. The drop was consistent across the four tracked spending categories — Basic Needs, Experiences, Gifts, and Indulgences — although report authors noted, “it is surprising to see even Basic Needs impacted.”

This is the sixth bi-annual Consumer Sentiment Report from Alvarez & Marsal.

“This survey cycle reveals a growing consumer pessimism as we head into the spring season, with intentions to exercise greater caution in spending especially in higher income households,” Chad Lusk, managing director at Alvarez & Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group, said in a statement.

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