(LARGO, FL — May 23, 2012) — As consumers get ready to kick off summer this Memorial Day, the Valpak annual Consumer Savings Report reveals it’s going to be a scaled-back summer for many of them. The third annual summer report* indicates a steady decline in consumers’ purchase intentions over the past two years, from 70 percent in 2010 planning to spend the same or more to just 50 percent in 2012. Only 23 percent of consumers plan to spend more this summer over last, down five percent from last year, on purchases ranging from vacations to home improvement to electronics.

Valpak, the 44-year direct and digital savings leader, conducted the report to explore how consumer spending is evolving year over year. The report reveals several notable trends in spending, coupon usage and summer family activities:

  • Pain at the Pump: High gas prices are affecting how consumers shop around town, as well as plans to get away on vacation over the next six months.
  • Fewer Bon Voyages This Year: Consumers are cutting back once again on travel and vacations, yet admit they know they could be saving more when traveling.
  • Entertaining on the Cheap: Plans to entertain at home this summer include modest spending on new grills, patio furniture and outdoor games.
  • Investing in the Home: Fewer consumers are investing in their homes via DIY improvements or professional home services.
  • Missed Opportunities in Purchase Behaviors: There are surprising areas consumers aren’t saving money but know they could.

"Consumers are holding on to their wallets which means businesses need to work hard to motivate people to spend. Consumers can easily find the best value with online coupons, smartphone apps and traditional printed coupons, which makes it a lot easier," said Deanna Willsey, director of corporate communications at Valpak.

Rising Gas Prices Put the Brakes on Consumers Spending

The cost of gas continues to affect consumer spending behaviors. Nearly 40 percent of consumers plan to buy more items on their shopping trips to avoid extra trips out, compared to 28 percent in 2011. Thirty-four percent of consumers continue to search for coupons and deals before leaving the house, and roughly 30 percent say they buy generic brands instead of the name brand products they’re used to.

* Valpak’s Consumer Savings Report is a consumer spending index surveying more than 1,000 consumers and was conducted as an online survey by Research Now®. Results are within ±3.0 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Survey was conducted May 2012.

Travel Expenses Can Be Cut with Local Coupons

Fifty-eight percent of consumers plan to make travel or vacation plans over the next six months, down seven percent from 2010. Twenty-four percent of consumers admit that they aren’t saving money on travel and vacation by using coupons, but know they could. When asked how they coupon and seek deals on vacation, a majority of consumers (32 percent) are using search engines and city-specific deal sites (28 percent) rather than searching online (13 percent) or through mobile apps (8 percent).

“Mobile coupons makes saving money simple, whether you are close to home or on vacation,” said Willsey. “For example, Valpak coupons are available via our Valpak mobile website, Valpak savings app, Junaio augmented reality app, as well as via SMS in many cities across the country. In addition to searching for savings before you go out to save gas, you can also save on-the-go by using mobile coupons to cut down on expenses like dining out and entertainment, and can help locate the nearest deal to save money around town or even on vacation.”

Frugality Is Key in Home Entertaining

Half of consumers plan to entertain friends and family at home this summer, which can provide a less expensive option to pricey outings. Despite plans to invite guests into their home and backyard, few respondents plan to spend money on new items such as outdoor furniture (17 percent), grills and outdoor appliances (12 percent), outdoor games or sports equipment (11 percent) and pool supplies (7 percent) this summer. The majority of respondents (76 percent) plan to spend their money on grocery items for their guests, focusing on the food, rather than on the décor.

Home Decorating is DIY

Intentions for both interior and exterior home improvements are down from last year, down six and five percent respectively for exterior and interior improvement expenditures. Additionally, only seven percent of consumers hosting get-togethers this summer plan to hire a professional for any home repairs or lawn services, while just 20 percent will partake in cheaper DIY fixes around the house. When asked what items consumers aren’t saving money on but know they could, 23 percent answered home improvement and 22 percent responded with home furnishings.

Coupons Could Help Ease the Burn of Summer Spending

Consumers continue to seek out values when making purchases, but many aren’t saving money with coupons even if they know they could. Categories where consumers still continue to splurge without a deal or discount include groceries (26 percent), dining out (25 percent), family activities (24 percent), home improvement (23 percent) and personal beauty (22 percent). With Valpak’s coupon apps for iPhone™ and Android™ smartphones and the iPad™, consumers have easy access to free coupons for local restaurants, retailers and service providers no matter where they are.

About Valpak®
Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America, is owned and operated by Cox Target Media, Inc., a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Media Group, Inc. With nearly 170 franchises throughout the United States and Canada, The Blue Envelope® delivers savings and value to nearly 40 million households each month. Annually, Valpak will distribute some 20 billion offers inserted in more than 500 million envelopes. Valpak also offers digital solutions with www.Valpak.com®, an online site for printable coupons and coupon codes which has nearly 70 million offer views each month, as well as apps for smartphone platforms. For more information, please contact 1-800-676-6878.

About Cox Media Group
Cox Media Group is an integrated broadcasting, publishing, direct marketing and digital media company that includes the national advertising rep firms of Cox Reps. Additionally, CMG owns and operates Valpak, one of North AmericaÍs leading direct marketing companies. With $1.7 billion in revenue, the company operations include 15 broadcast television stations and one local cable channel, 86 radio stations, eight daily newspapers and more than a dozen non-daily publications, and more than 100 digital services. CMG operates in more than 30 media markets and reaches approximately 52 million Americans weekly, including 30 million TV viewers, more than 4 million print and online newspaper readers, and 18 million radio listeners. For more information about Cox Media Group, please check us out online at http://www.coxmediagroup.com.