Consumer Purchases - 4/10/14 | WYPR

Consumer Purchases - 4/10/14

Apr 10, 2014

Americans have been altering how they buy what they buy, with Internet sales grabbing market share in recent years.  But consumers aren’t just shifting how they make purchases, but also what they’re buying.  For decades, Americans purchases of basics like laundry detergent and toothpaste roughly kept pace with the economy’s overall rate of economic expansion.  

But as reported in the Wall Street Journal, that rule of thumb no longer holds.  People are consuming less cereal and drinking less soda.  They are also purchasing fewer razorblades as men shave less and grow beards.  Pre-measured laundry soap capsules and more efficient machines save on detergent.  More people are choosing fresh food over packaged foods.  The average American spent a bit more than $2500 on packaged consumer goods last year, up less than 1 percent from 2012 according to market research firm Nielsen. 

Americans now devote less than 11 percent of their personal expenditures to packaged goods, down from 14 percent in 1990.  Not all categories are stagnating.  Sales of energy drinks and Greek yogurt have been on the rise.  But weak demand is translating into more sales.  Nearly 34 percent of consumer packaged goods were sold on promotion during a recent 12-month period.