The pattern of consumer buying plans for the immediate future is up, which bodes well for a successful Christmas selling season. Despite continuing gloomy public feelings about the state of the economy, with a 54 to 35 per cent majority that thinks we are in a recession and a 47 to 30 per cent plurality that anticipates a recession next year, Americans now plan to purchase more in the period immediately ahead - particulary in the areas of home repairs and furnishings, clothing and travel.
According to a Harris Survey of 1,533 adults across the nation, the most dramatic upsurge in consumer demand can be expected in purchases affecting the home.
Compared with a year ago, the number of people in the market for a new home has gone up from 6 to 8 per cent. Thus, the recent activity in new housing can be expected to continue, at least into the near future.
A sharp increase is expected in home repairs, from 30 per cent of the households a year ago to 40 per cent now. One of the reasons for the rise is the increase in consumers planning to improve the insulation of their homes.
New furniture purchases look encouraging, with consumer expectations rising from 23 per cent last year to 25 per cent now.
More consumers expect to buy new color television sets this year - 11 per cent - then the 9 per cent who expressed similar expectations this time last year. Black and white TV set buying also is anticipated to rise from 4 to 5 per cent.
Another area where buying intentions are moving up is clothing:
Fully 86 per cent of the households now expect to purchase new clothes in the next few months, compared with 80 per cent a year ago.
The travel area is another where an increase is expected:
The number of Americans who expect to be taking a vacation by auto in the next six months is now 30 per cent, up from 28 per cent a year ago.
The number anticipating a vacation by air is up sharply from 15 per cent in 1976 to 21 per cent now.
The number of people planning to take a trip abroad by air has risen sharply from 4 to 7 per cent during the last year.
And 4 per cent of Americans expect to take a vacation in Europe, up from 2 per cent this time last year.
The new car market, however, appears to be flat, comparing expectations of last year with those of this year.
A year ago, 15 per cent of the public reported being in the market for a new car, precisely the same as today.