Deal-Seekers 2020

Economizing in Ways Old and New

Executive Summary

As the Great Recession receded, one might have expected people to drift away from active economizing. Instead, US consumers across income levels added new retail venues (like digital resale) to their money-saving mix, while doubling down on older methods (like buying private-label goods). Thus, they’re poised for serious bargain-hunting if the coronavirus yields a serious recession.

Will consumers become avid bargain-hunters as a potential recession saps their spending power?

The answer is “yes, but.” They’ll certainly be careful with their money, especially if they lose their jobs amid the outbreak. But consumers have already been avid bargain-hunters, and not just those with low incomes. Many have unabashedly stuck with the deal-seeking they adopted during the Great Recession. Price has remained crucial in drawing consumers to new brands and keeping them attached to old standbys.

Has the quest for bargains gone largely digital (and mobile)?

Of course. Large majorities of consumers deploy their smartphones in-store to compare prices and seek deals. For younger people, couponing has gone mostly digital. Mobile apps that alert consumers to bargains have proliferated.

How does all this figure into consumers’ choices of retail channels?

We estimate that about half of US adults will be Amazon Prime members this year. Digital resale has gone from a niche to a broad-based phenomenon. And rental of goods one needn’t really own has become increasingly common in multiple categories. Dollar stores have garnered a consumer base well beyond low-income shoppers.

Did consumers shy away from options like private label when the economy was improving?

On the contrary. Private label only became more entrenched. There’s a broad perception that private-label goods—a far cry from the bottom-feeding generics of years past—are as good as the big-name national brands.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report will look at the enduring popularity of economizing a decade beyond the Great Recession, with consumers across income levels buying private-label goods, seeking coupons, shopping at dollar stores, and so on—all portending what’s to come as another recession looms.

KEY STAT: A discount can move a consumer to complete a digital purchase, according to an October 2019 survey from Retail Touchpoints. Conversely, unforeseen shipping charges can be a last-minute deal breaker.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Poised to Economize in a New Recession
  3. On High Alert for Sales and Discounts
  4. Where Economizers Go to Economize
  1. The Lure of Private Label
  2. Those Magic Words: ‘Free Shipping’
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Manish Chandra
Interviewed March 18, 2020
Brian Choi
The Food Institute
Managing Partner, CEO
Interviewed March 12, 2020
Katherine Cullen
National Retail Federation
Senior Director of Industry and Consumer Insights
Interviewed March 12, 2020
Brian Numainville
Retail Feedback Group
Interviewed March 12, 2020
Sara Skirboll
Shopping and Trends Expert
Interviewed March 16, 2020
Mary Brett Whitfield
Senior Vice President
Interviewed March 16, 2020

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