Has the Recent Recession Caused High Street Consumers to Change Their Buying Habits?

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The author of this essay is a consumer of high street fashion apparel and expresses a personal interest into the findings of the research. The author hopes to obtain an advanced understanding of consumer buying behaviour in the current economical climate and compare it with their own spending habits. The strategic issues that are relevant to this topic are as follows; are there specific groups of consumers being targeted when undertaking the research, what are the consumer behaviours that are notably different as a result of the recession and how have these behaviours affected the retailers. The aim of this research project is to understand the extent the high street has been affected by changes in consumer behaviour, caused by the recession. The objectives are as follows; To define the term recession, To understand consumers attitudes to shopping for fashion apparel in times of financial hardship, To investigate the affect the recession has had on the retail industry in terms of sales performance, To analyse the affect the youth market has had on high street retailing during the recession and to recommend concepts for fashion retailers to adopt when facing a recession. “One of the most popular definitions of recessions is that they are periods when real gross national product (GNP) has declined for at least two consecutive quarters” (Moore, 1993). Moore then explains, through research he has conducted, that there are several problems with that definition “one is that it does not provide monthly dates of when recessions began or ended. For this purpose the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), whose chronology of recessions is widely accepted, uses monthly measures of production, employment, sales, and income, all expressed in real terms (after allowing for inflation). GNP figures are not available monthly”. “The field of consumer behaviour covers a lot of ground. It is the study of the process involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use or dispose of products, services, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and desires” ( Solomon, 2009). Consumer behaviour during a recession has been analysed through quantitative research to understand if and how it has changed. Weekes (2004:113-122) investigated consumer spending and attitudes to debt through a questionnaire distributed to 125 respondents, primarily students, in the age range of 16 to 27 years of age. The results indicated consumer’s attitudes to debt, attitudes to spending, attitudes to cutting back on spending and buying behaviour. By analysing her findings it can be decided if borrowing money affects a consumer’s purchasing decision, what are the products or services that are cut back on first, what factors motivate consumers to purchase fashion apparel and whether males and females have contrasting attitudes to these. The potential of this research opens up possibilities of researching a wider range of respondents, for example, different age groups and demographics to gain a more in depth analysis of all these consumer attitudes. The Report ‘Fashion: Impact of The Recession - UK - June 2010’ gives market research results into the following: which (gender and life-stage of the consumer) and what percentage of consumers; reduced their fashion apparel spending, expect to increase their spending in the next year, are affected by sales or special offers, are prepared to pay more for better quality clothes, are loyal to a particular retailer, have actually been affected by the recession and which and what percentage of consumers are choosing to spend their income on buying fashion goods. This research can then be compared to the findings carried out by Weekes. The report ‘Fashion: Impact of The Recession - UK - June 2010’ also analyses whether consumers have traded down to value retailers during the recession by researching if fashion retailer’s customer bases have changed. This could be developed to see if this will cause consumers to be...
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