Survey Results: The Consumer Sentiment Study

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Wondering how people are feeling about their finances these days? It may be obvious that the answer right now is “not great,” but if you’re looking for more specifics, we’ve got some. Marcus has launched a new quarterly survey, The Consumer Sentiment Study, which tracks Americans’ perception of current and future financial climates, market conditions and plans for their money. 

The first of these quarterly surveys was conducted on March 27, 2020 among a nationally representative sample (using U.S. Census data) of 2,503 Americans. The data captures consumer sentiment during one of the most turbulent markets in recent history. 

Here are some of the survey findings that stood out from our inaugural study. Be sure to check back for future survey results. 

Would you say that you are better off or worse off financially than you were 6 months ago? What about looking ahead 6 months from now? What about the business conditions in the country as a whole?

  • 42% of Americans feel they are the same financially now than they were 6 months ago.
  • Over a third (34%) of Americans feel they are worse off financially now than they were 6 months ago.
  • 22% of Americans feel they are better off financially now than they were 6 months ago.
  • Over three-quarters (76%) of Americans feel they are the same or worse off financially now than they were 6 months ago.
  • 64% of Americans feel they are the same or better off financially now than they were 6 months ago.
  • Over a third (34%) of Americans think that 6 months from now they will be better off financially.
  • Over a third (35%) of Americans think that 6 months from now they will be just about the same financially.
  • More than one in five Americans (21%) think that 6 months from now they will be worse off financially.
  • Nearly half (46%) of Americans think that the next 6 months will have bad financial business conditions.

Which of the following market events or business conditions are you most concerned about?

  • Over half of Americans (57%) are most concerned about their health, followed by an economic recession (52%) and the job market (41%).
  • Only 27% of Americans are most concerned about the presidential election.

No one can say for sure, but what do you think will happen to the stock market during the next 6 months? What do you think will happen to interest rates for borrowing money during the next 6 months?

  • 39% of Americans think the stock market will go down.
  • 28% of Americans think the stock market will go up.
  • 31% of Americans think interest rates for borrowing money will go up.
  • 57% of Americans think interest rates for borrowing money will either go up or stay the same.
  • 27% of Americans think interest rates for borrowing money will go down.
  • 53% of Americans think interest rates for borrowing money will either go down or stay the same.

Compared to your current behavior, do you think that during the next 6 months you will…

  • 44% of Americans think they will spend less.
  • 39% of Americans think they will save more.
  • 39% of Americans think they will invest less
  • 17% of Americans think they will invest more.

You said that during the next 6 months, you think you will spend more. Where do you believe that you will be spending more money? 

  • 32% believe they will spend more money on healthcare, followed by their automobile (27%).
  • 22% believe they will spend more on luxury goods, followed by vacation (21%).

You said that during the next 6 months, you think you will spend less. Why do you believe that you will be spending less money? 

  • 43% believe they could be making less money and need to cut back.
  • 37% believe they will be on a budget to scale back from recent purchases.
  • 37% think prices or the cost of living will increase so they will end up buying fewer things.

During the next 6 months, do you think you will start looking for new financial accounts?

  • 21% of Americans think they will start looking for new financial accounts during the next 6 months.
  • 56% of Americans do not think they will start looking for new financial accounts during the next 6 months.

What types of financial accounts/investments would you consider opening? What factors are important to you?

  • Over a third (34%) would consider opening a high-yield savings account at an online bank and 28% would consider opening a CD.
  • Of those who think they will start looking for new financial accounts during the next 6 months, when considering opening a new financial account, 46% say that an important factor is quick access to funds, followed by the rate of return (43%) and the reputation of the financial institution (43%).

Of those who will look to open a high-yield savings account at an online bank in the next 6 months, why would you consider opening high-yield savings accounts at an online-only bank?

  • 61% would do so because of the higher interest rate that online banks offer, followed by 42% wanting to safeguard their money in an FDIC-insured asset and 41% ensuring liquid and quick access to cash.

Of those who will look to open a CD in the next 6 months, why would you consider opening Certificates of Deposit (CDs)?

  • 44% would to safeguard their money in an FDIC-insured asset, 42% think it’s a good for the value of their long-term investments and 39% prefer a guaranteed rate of return.

Quarterly Consumer Sentiment Study Overview

The Consumer Sentiment Survey was conducted by Marcus by Goldman Sachs in March 2020, among 2,503 Americans.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.