Spending among US consumers is returning to pre-recession levels, according to a new report from global consumer intelligence firm Mintel. The report, titled American Lifestyles 2014, reveals that 2013 spending on consumer goods hit $10trn for the first time – and this figure is expected to increase by an above-inflation rate of 3.6% this year.
Mintel found that consumer optimism is also on the rise. "In 2014, it appears that America has finally stopped holding its collective breath," says Fiona O'Donnell, category manager, multicultural, lifestyles and leisure at Mintel. "After five years of slow but steady growth, Americans have passed the tipping point of prolonged economic worry and have cautiously accepted that things are better."
The report noted that this optimism is particularly high among 18- to 24-year-olds, who tend to place a higher value on experiences than material purchases. In addition, large numbers of baby boomers are now reaching retirement age, leaving them with free time and high levels of disposable income (see Power Boomers for more). As a result, Mintel predicts that spending in both the leisure and entertainment sector and the tourism sector will rise by more than 25% over the next five years.
Households that have seen improvements to their economic situations are now starting to focus on other priorities. Saving rates are falling – in 2014, just one in 10 Americans said they save extra money rather than spending it, half the rate of 2013's survey results. Instead, top goals for US consumers this year include a healthier diet (88%), increased family time (88%) and taking regular exercise (87%).
For more on the emerging attitudes and lifestyles of post-recession consumers, take a look at our Macro Trend The Austerity Opportunity.