Affluent consumers are cautious, negative

The American Affluence Research Center released results from its bi-annual Affluent Market Tracking Study for Fall 2011. The overall impression of the results is the affluent consumer is being cautious, yet has a negative outlook for the next 12 months. In the release, AARC relates this to the recent consumer confidence numbers which were down in October - a steady decline since February.

Many survey respondents don't expect major changes to happen within the next 12 months. However, respondents had a negative view of current business conditions, 12-month outlook for economy, stock market and personal income. Forty percent plan to make a conscious effort to reduce or defer expenditures in the next 12 months according to the release - a number that has stayed the same since Fall 2010.

Housing

The AARC asked respondents about the current and future housing conditions, and found that 13 percent (second highest result in the survey) plan to remodel their homes, 5.0 plan to buy a new home, and only 1.6 plan to build. See chart. Purchasing a new home did increase from the Spring 2011 survey.

On the positive side, only 3 percent are underwater in their mortgages - with 59 percent who said debt is less than their home's market value.

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