As Wall St. braces for Q1 earnings (ending April) for a host of retailers, more signs of consumer stress keep showing up. For example, coupon usage (Forbes):
- Coupon redemption is at an all-time high.
- Last month, 59% of shoppers showed up at stores with lists of items they were limiting themselves to purchasing. Brit Beemer, president of America’s Research Group, says the historical average the last 29 years has been 33%.
- More people are planning on shifting their shopping from chains to independent stores. They believe price haggling, which is more accepted at these owner-run stores, will reap additional savings.
- About half of women shoppers have no opinion on the newest spring apparel lines, simply because they haven’t looked. This lack of interest is an oddity because of the dramatic seasonal shift in apparel from winter.
A wholesale spending shift from chains to independents seems unlikely, especially since independents generally have higher prices. Wal-Mart (WMT), CostCo (COST), and other low-price retailers still seem the best-positioned to weather the consumer pressure.