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NRF Study Finds Most Americans Seek Bargains, Regardless of Age or Income

“Everybody loves a bargain” is an adage that seems to be holding true, with research released Thursday by the National Retail Federation suggesting nearly all U.S. consumers—regardless of age or income group—are value-conscious shoppers who regularly visit discount retailers.

According to the NRF’s new Consumer View report, which surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. adults, 89 percent of consumers said they shop at various types of discount retailers. Of those, 58 percent reported shopping at dollar stores; 50 percent at off-price stores like Ross or T.J. Maxx and discount grocers like Aldi or Lidl; 44 percent at outlet stores; and 36 percent at thrift stores.

Those discount models appeal to consumers across generations and income level, the study found, with 89 percent of respondents who earn less than $50,000 a year, 88 percent of those making between $50,000 and $100,000, and 90 percent of those earning over $100,000, saying they shop at various discount retailers. Bargain shoppers include 93 percent of millennials (born from 1981 to 1994) and Generation Z (born in 1995 or later) over the age of 18.

“Looking for the best price is a habit that cuts across almost every demographic,” said Mark Mathew, NRF vice president for research development and industry analysis. “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.”

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The report noted that off-price and discount shopping took off during the Great Recession as cash-strapped consumers became more price-conscious “on everything from brand-name goods to everyday household purchases.”

“Now, eight years into the economic recovery, consumers continue to hunt for deals and discounts,” the study’s authors said.

There are regional differences among value shoppers, with 38 percent living in the South, 23 percent in the West, 21 percent in the Midwest and 18 percent in the Northeast. They are almost evenly divided among men (47 percent) and women (53 percent), and 46 percent have children, according to the report.

Apparel was the product respondents said they were most likely to purchase at bargain retailers, cited by 75 percent of those surveyed, followed by groceries (71 percent), home décor and furnishings (62 percent), personal care and beauty products (60 percent) and electronics (52 percent).

Value shopping is a way of life for those surveyed, with 43 percent going to a discount grocer weekly, 66 percent visiting a dollar store at least twice a month and 58 percent shopping at an outlet at least once a month. In addition, 63 percent said they are buying more items on sale than they did five years ago.

The NRF report said value consumers are “willing to give up almost anything for the satisfaction of a good bargain,” with roughly 75 percent saying they would do without popular shopping habits such as buying online, in-store pickup, free two-day shipping, product reviews or an “entertaining” shopping experience.