Female shoppers not ready to lead retail recovery: Survey

A survey of more than 2000 shoppers has revealed that female shoppers – the chief purchasing decision maker in most households – remain cautious despite the economic recovery and are still tightly controlling family budgets.

The survey, conducted by Directional Insights for AMP Capital Shopping Centres, shows Australian shoppers are still spending less in every retail category except for take-home food, although there are signs that purse strings are loosening for spending in areas such as clothing, eating out and going to the cinema.

AMP Capital Shopping Centres head of marketing, Stuart Langeveldt, says the survey is heavily skewed towards female consumers, who account for 74% of all shoppers at AMP centres.

He says that while there are cautious signs of optimism amongst this group thanks to the economic recovery, mixed messages about interest rates, consumer confidence and the Federal election mean tight control of the budget is still a priority.

“Historically, women have always led retail recoveries and although many intend to spend less in several categories, there are clear signs of improvement from 12 months ago.

“Women are still in the market for sales, and are setting budgets for their spending. They are planning for the worst but hoping for the best.

He says retailers need to remain patient about the recovery flowing through to retail spending and appreciate that sales of discretionary items are going to remain particularly tough to get across the line.

“Retailers need to understand that consumers are going to research a lot more and they are still going to expect a bargain and expect a discount. “

He says retailers who work to make product information easily accessible and price comparisons simple will be rewarded by consumers.

On a city-based comparison, shoppers’ confidence in Brisbane is more fragile than in Sydney and Melbourne. In every category tested in the survey, Brisbane shoppers represented the highest proportion of people intending to spend less.

The survey identified eight retail categories where people intend to spend less. They are, in order:

– Buying take away food
– Eating out in cafes and restaurants
– Big ticket items like furniture and large electrical goods
– Going out to the theatre, movies or a bar
– Home entertainment like DVDs, video hire, video games, CDs, traditional board games
– Clothing shoes and accessories
– Gifts
– General items like books, newsagency etc

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