March 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

Web shoppers are less pessimistic than they were in the fall, survey shows

50% say they have cut back spending in the past few months in a survey conducted in February and March compared with 59% who said so in October. The survey by PriceGrabber.com shows shoppers are spending more time looking for deals on the web.

Online shoppers are not quite as reluctant to spend as they were in the fall, according to a survey by comparison shopping engine PriceGrabber.com.

50% say they have cut back spending in the past few months in a survey conducted in February and March, compared with 59% who said so in a PriceGrabber survey in October and 56% in May. In the recent survey, 23% say they have not changed their spending habits, up from 16% in October, while 27% now say they try to save money regardless of the economic situation, down from 25% in the fall. The recent data is based on a survey of 4,239 shoppers who made purchases through PriceGrabber.com and was conducted between Feb. 10 and March 9.

Consumers are using the web to save money, the survey shows. 40% say they spend more time online now comparing prices, while only 1% say less; 26% say they spend more time finding and printing coupons, while 2% say less; and 26% spend more time shopping on the web, whereas 5% say they spend less time.

In other findings from the study:

  • 91% of those surveyed say researching products online makes them more confident about their purchases, 75% say they look to purchase from web merchants that offer free shipping and don’t charge sales tax, and 54% say they search for coupons and discounts online even if they plan to purchase offline.

  • While 47% say they will resist online retailers’ aggressive discounts on big-ticket items, 30% say they have purchased or plan to purchase a TV set or other consumer electronic product, 20% home improvement products, 12% kitchen appliances or furniture and 12% indoor furniture. 40% of consumers aged 18 to 34 say they have made or plan to make a major electronics purchase, compared with 26% of those 55 and older.

  • 8% of those surveyed say they have lost their job, 1% say they are about to lose it and 12% fear they may lose their job.

  • 62% of online shoppers say they have credit card debt, 32% have a credit card and no debt, and 6% have no credit card. Of those with credit card debit, 41% say they’ve reduced it during the recession while 14% say their debt has increased.

  • 8% of respondents say the economy will improve enough in six months that they’ll be able to resume their prior spending, 21% one year, 34% two years, 15% three years, 7% four years and 15% five years or more.

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