SOURCE: AlixPartners

AlixPartners

December 14, 2009 10:00 ET

New AlixPartners Poll Shows Americans Predict a Post-Recession Savings Rate of 15%

Essentially the Same Rate Predicted in February, on the Heels of Wall Street Meltdown; the Birth of 'Citizen S'?

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 14, 2009) - Despite signs the recession may have ended, Americans say they plan to save a stunning 15% of their total income after the economy improves, according to a new poll by the global business-advisory firm AlixPartners.

The survey of 7,500 people, conducted in November, echoes the findings of a February poll by AlixPartners -- in which Americans said they planned to save 14% of their income post-recession -- and provides further evidence that consumer spending could remain low for some time. The result, AlixPartners believes, could be a "new normal," with implications for businesses of all types.

Americans saved 1.6% of their total earnings in 2008 and just 1.4% annually on average for the prior decade.

"When we released our February survey, conducted in the immediate wake of the financial meltdown on Wall Street, we were careful to note the results were most likely inflated by the emotions of the day," said Fred Crawford, CEO of AlixPartners. "But this new poll suggests that Americans are still very unnerved by the events of this past year. And while, again, we think this very high number probably needs to be taken with a grain of salt, it is nonetheless indicative of the new mood of Americans today."

"In fact," he continued, "it appears that this new mindset could well be fundamental and pervasive. We have always heard about the generations -- Baby Boomers, Echo Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, each with their own distinct way of thinking and acting. This recession may have spawned the 'Society of Savers' -- 'Citizen S,' as it were. This appears to be a new way of thinking and being, not a moment in time."

To that point, in a companion AlixPartners survey of over 1,000 Americans also done in late November, 52% said they were "extremely concerned" or "very concerned" about the economic situation -- a decline from 64% when AlixPartners asked the same question earlier this year, but still a large number. Americans in the survey also said they don't expect to return to a pre-recession lifestyle until late 2012; this contrasts to AlixPartners' February survey, in which people were expecting a return to pre-recession norms in mid-2012.

"From all indications, America's new normal will look very different from the old normal," said Steve Deedy, an AlixPartners managing director and co-lead of the firm's Enterprise Improvement Practice. "And that's going to affect industries of all kinds. That's because, for the 70% of the economy that's driven in one way or another by consumer spending, the only poll that really matters is the choice Americans make each and every day as to how much they're going to spend on goods and services."

Said Peter Fitzsimmons, AlixPartners' president of North America and co-lead of the firm's Turnaround and Restructuring Practice, "Even though many companies have bought themselves some breathing room recently through modified financing arrangements, confronting significantly lower operating performance realities cannot be delayed forever. Moreover, as this survey shows, it does not seem as if a return to more traditional consumer spending will alleviate today's pressure on operating results."

To that end, Fitzsimmons pointed out that a food-industry study by AlixPartners, released in October, found that while Americans plan to keep eating out, average spending per meal in the coming year could end up 20% below pre-recession levels. And according to an AlixPartners holiday-outlook survey, conducted in early November, 82% of American consumers said they planned to continue shopping at lower-priced stores after the economy improved.

Elsewhere in the world, an AlixPartners survey across Germany, Italy, France, Sweden and the UK released in October found that while only 10% of those polled said they expect their recessionary cutbacks in discretionary spending to be permanent, 62% of Europeans said they don't expect to see a full recovery anytime before 2012.

Meantime, the latest AlixPartners study suggests there is growing uncertainty about the timing of a recovery in the U.S. as well. While the percentage of Americans who expect a recovery in 2011 at the earliest held steady at 67%, the same level as in February, the percentage who said they are uncertain about the timing of a recovery nearly doubled to 23% in November, from 13% in February. The percentage of Americans who don't expect a recovery until 2013, meanwhile, rose to 23%, from 19% in February.

Eliminating personal debt and potential job loss remain the biggest concerns for Americans. But 12% of those polled voiced concerns about possible cuts in health benefits, up from just 5% in February.

Methodology

The "New Normal Revisited: A Long-Range U.S. Economic Outlook" was compiled from two online surveys using a sample panel statistically weighted to represent the U.S. population ages 18 and over, across four key demographic attributes: age, gender, region and race. Interviewing completed on Nov. 24.

About AlixPartners

AlixPartners LLP is a global business-advisory firm offering comprehensive services to improve corporate performance, execute corporate turnarounds, and provide litigation consulting and forensic accounting services. The firm's specialty is urgent, high-impact situations when results really matter. The firm has more than 900 professionals in 14 offices across North America, Europe and Asia, and is on the Web at www.alixpartners.com.

Contact Information

  • Media Contacts:
    Meir Kahtan
    (Meir Kahtan Public Relations)
    +1.212.575.8188
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    Tim Yost
    (AlixPartners)
    +1.248.204.8689