A recent study by Georgia Southern University shows a marked decrease in consumer confidence leading into the 2011 holiday buying season - a trend some researchers say could be troubling to retailers.
"Our survey of consumers across the state of Georgia shows a sharp drop in the level of confidence they have in the economy," said Georgia Southern University's Dominique Halaby, director of the Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development.
"The survey found that 55 percent of the people we surveyed said they felt the economy is worse now than it was a year ago. That's a stark contrast to a survey we conducted in the spring, when only 39 percent of consumers felt the economy was in worse shape than it had been 12 months earlier," said Georgia Southern researcher Benjamin McKay.
The survey, conducted by the Bureau of Business Research in Georgia Southern's College of Business Administration, is designed to gauge consumer confidence and predict spending during retailers' crucial holiday season. McKay said the findings of the statewide survey show many consumers plan to spend the same amount or less than they did last year, with only 10 percent saying they expect to spend more. The shoppers who responded to the survey said they plan to spend an average of $115 per family member.
"Our survey shows the vast majority of shoppers plan to do all of their shopping between the day after Thanksgiving and December 15," Halaby said. "So, retailers may see a drop-off in sales as much as 10 days before Christmas."
McKay said the survey, which was conducted between Oct. 24 and Oct. 27, 2011, indicates that participant's economic views are linked to their current salary's ability to keep up with the cost of living.
"If their salaries are not keeping pace, then their economic outlook decreases," McKay said. "And that may mean another difficult season for retailers around the state of Georgia."