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by Kenneth Hein

Restraint will be the new mantra among consumers, according to the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Survey. But that doesn’t mean they won’t start spending again in the near future.

Respondents to the poll, conducted in April across 50 countries making up 86 percent of the GDP, said they would continue to focus on fiscal responsibility. Yet, “they will allow themselves some of those little indulgences,” said James Russo, vice president, Global Consumer Insights. “Perhaps pent-up demand will play itself out, and they’ll take that vacation they put off, go back to casual dining and increase out-of-home entertainment activities such as movie-going.”

In April, 56 percent of consumers said they were spending less on new clothes. However, only 22 percent said they would continue to do so with an economic recovery predicted by year’s end.

More than half (53 percent) also cut down on out-of-home entertainment, still only 20 percent said they planned to maintain this behavior. And, while 45 percent of respondents shied away from take-away meals, only 24 percent plan on avoiding these more expensive meals moving forward.

Still, consumers clearly indicated that they would remain focused on savings past the recovery. “A whole new value system has emerged — one of casual restraint,” said Russo. “There is a focus on fiscal responsibility and budgeting, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for indulgences. I don’t mean diamond jewelry, but moderation will be key, and you may see consumers begin to trade up and move back to mainstream retailers.”

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