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Desire for bargains remains strong in U.S.

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Unemployment is low, and consumer confidence is high. But no matter how well the overall economy is doing, Americans are still focused on saving money.

Recent research from the National Retail Federation shows that the preference for value affects where consumers shop and what they buy.

A survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults found that 89% regularly shop at various types of discount retailers. Of those, 58% reported shopping at dollar stores; 50% shop at off-price stores like Ross or T.J. Maxx and discount grocers like Aldi or Lidl; 44% visit outlet stores; and 36% shop at thrift stores.

“Looking for the best price is a habit that cuts across almost every demographic,” NRF vice president for research development and industry analysis Mark Mathews said. “Regardless of income or generation, virtually everyone wants a bargain, whether it’s for everyday necessities or big-ticket splurges. Even those who can afford to shop elsewhere love finding a ‘steal,’ and it’s a habit that’s here to stay.”

The NRF’s “Consumer View” report noted that off-price and discount shopping took off during the recession. But even eight years into an economic recovery, those habits remain entrenched.

The survey found that discount shopping options appeal to consumers across age and income groups. Among those making under $50,000 a year, 89% say they shop at various discount retailers. The same is true for 88% of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 and 90% of those making more than $100,000. The ranks of bargain shoppers also include 93% of Millennials and members of Generation Z who are over the age of 18. Among the survey respondents who identified themselves as bargain shoppers, 47% were men and 53% were women.

Clothing was identified as the product consumers are most likely to purchase at bargain retailers, cited by 75% of those surveyed. Other top categories favored by bargain hunters are groceries (71%), home decor and furnishings (62%), personal care and beauty products (60%), and electronics (52%).

The survey also found that 43% of consumers visit a discount grocer weekly, and 66% go to a dollar store at least twice a month. In addition, 63% say they are buying more items on sale than they did five years ago.


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