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Consumers Cutting Back On CE Purchases This Summer

Higher energy costs are forcing consumers to cut back on their discretionary spending this summer, and consumer electronics could be the first category to feel the pinch.

That’s the projection of ChangeWave Research, based here, which identifies and quantifies “change” in industries and companies through its quarterly surveys of thousands of business executives and professionals in more than 20 industries.

According to the latest survey, conducted June 6-12, 42 percent of 2,627 respondents said they’ll spend more overall in the next 90 days compared to a year ago — down 2 points from the previous survey in March. Another 25 percent said they’ll spend less, an increase of 3 percent over March.

CE spending is where respondents say they’re cutting back most over the next 90 days. Only 24 percent said they’ll spend more on electronic devices — down 5 points from March — while 34 percent said they’ll spend less — up from 31 percent in the last survey. Indeed, respondents consider CE significantly more dispensable than car purchases, dining out, home durables, travel, home repairs/improvements and assorted services (fitness, summer camp, lessons, etc.).

The retrenchment doesn’t appear to be affecting PC sales, however. A total of 18 percent of respondents said they purchased a computer within the last 90 days, up 2 points from March, while another 18 percent said they plan to buy a computer in the next 90 days — a 4 point jump from the previous period.

Looking ahead, 33 percent of respondents said they’re more likely to buy an Apple in the future thanks to the inclusion of Intel chips, and 6 percent plan on buying some iteration of iPod in the next 90 days.

On the retail front, most respondents (63 percent) said they prefer to buy their home entertainment products and computer/networking equipment at a big-box specialty store. Online purchases were favored by 44 percent; 38 percent preferred shopping full-line national discount chains; and 12 percent do their shopping at the local specialty store.

Given a list of 23 national, regional and online dealers that sell CE, Best Buy was selected by 55 percent as their preferred shopping venue, followed by Circuit City at 25 percent and Costco at 22 percent. Circuit City’s showing represents its fourth consecutive rise since August 2005, when the No. 2 CE chain was only favored by 14 percent of respondents.

CE Shoppers’ Store Preference