Over the past seven years, Americans have pulled back on major purchases, such as houses and big appliances — they’ve paid down debt, shopped "deep-discount," tried to put money away for a rainy day.
Now, according to a survey in the latest issue of Consumer Reports, Americans are ready to spend it up again. Of the people Consumer Reports surveyed, 64 percent said they were planning a big-ticket purchase this year — a new or used vehicle, a new home, a home remodel or a major appliance.
The trend can be seen among the ranks of wannabe homebuyers in many urban markets that have rebounded in the past several years. Lee Ritter, 31, is a successful web designer who had been outbid recently for houses in Portland, Oregon. He’s very eager to buy.
“I see the market going steeper and steeper into territory that I can’t follow,” said Ritter. “And there’s lots of competition.”
That competition makes realtors happy, and makes homebuilders more willing to take the risk of breaking ground. It’s also good news for big-box stores and local chains that sell washer-dryers and big-screen TVs.
Tod Marks, senior projects editor at Consumer Reports, says survey data from the publication show that as the acute effects of the recession fade, Americans are more ready to spend.
“Nearly half of Americans either bought a new or used vehicle in the past year, or plan to buy in the year ahead,” said Marks. “And a third recently completed or are ready to undertake a major home remodeling.” Marks said the 2015 housing market forecast is the best in years.
Marks chalks up these increasingly robust spending expectations to the fact that Americans see more jobs being created; many also see their family balance sheets improving. Also, people put off purchases for so long, cars are breaking down now and houses are no longer big enough for growing families.
Most economists anticipate steady improvement, rather than a sharp upward spike in major retail purchases in the coming year, though. They say Americans are still loathe to take on debt, or pay more than they have to for anything.