Leisure spending, restricted spending, what purchasing power did the French have a few weeks before the presidential election?

Survey conducted by Harris Interactive online from March 4 to 7, 2022. Sample of 1,014 people representative of the population of France aged 18 and over. The quota and adjustment method was applied to the following variables: gender, age, socio-professional category and region of the interviewee.

Paris, March 30,

Theme 1: Money (does not) produce (does not) happiness: what does money have to do with the French? – Survey 3/3

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What should be kept from this investigation?

  • From health concerns to international tensions exacerbated by the invasion of Ukraine, issues of concern have changed widely in recent weeks for the French. If the shock of the conflict seems to have pushed Covid-19-related concerns into the background, it seems to have further emphasized the attention the French have paid to economic issues, and especially to their purchasing power (82%). , which has already been announced. as the central issue for the next election.
  • And for good reason, French are more feeling their purchasing power is declining, a dynamic that has strengthened in recent months but has already begun in the past 5 years for many of them (39%). A decrease associated with inflation, and especially with rising energy prices as well as daily commodities.
  • If, in France, 60% of the population is willing to declare that their current income allows them to live “as they wish”, this relative satisfaction covers a large social difference, and the anxiety of French households with the lowest income of only 38%. say they can live as they please. Difficulties are understood especially about the weight of restrained spending on budgets: on average, 72% of French spending is curable, only 28% remaining for leisure purchases.
  • Foresighted, the French give importance to savings. Ideally, on average, a Frenchman wants to save 21% of his income per month, but he estimates that he only accumulates 12% in reality.
  • Almost unanimous on the question, the French expect a significant and negative impact of the Ukrainian crisis on their purchasing power (85%). On the whole, willing to accept new economic and budgetary difficulties to come, given the importance of the goal defended (62%), however, the French are not equal in the face of risks for their purchasing power, the lowest income . they are more afraid.

Purchasing power is under threat and at the heart of the concerns

  • If the the international situation has moved to the forefront of concerns since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, though more than concerns related to climate emergencies, economic issues were at the heart of the French considerations. 84% of them are worried about the French economy and 82% of their own purchasing power. The Ukrainian crisis is therefore far from exceeding the economic concerns of the French – if it does not provoke them. As for the health crisis, for a long time was a major concern, now it seems more in the background of the concerns of the French (66%, behind social inequalities or even the cause of the animal).
  • Even among the wealthiest French citizens, a clear majority (72%) say they are concerned about their purchasing power, a sign that the issue covers the entire population, albeit to varying degrees. A concern attributed to the fact that the French often felt a decrease in their purchasing power over the past year : it affects almost half of them (48%). In total 39% see both intensified deterioration over the past 12 months and long -term deterioration from the past 5 years. The French with the highest incomes seem to have more often survived this feeling of loss of purchasing power over the past 5 years (33% of them), while those in the middle class seem to be the most affected by the impression that it (50%), forward. even the lowest class (46%).
  • The decrease in perceived purchasing power is mainly associated with rising prices : those in fuel and energy in general (88%), as well as in daily products (88% also). It is more rarely attributed to a change in personal situation such as a decrease in income (28%), a personal event such as a divorce (6%), or even a property purchase (4%).
  • Faced with this observation of the loss of purchasing power, the majority of potential voters (83%) indicate that they value the issue of purchasing power in their vote in the upcoming presidential election, particularly in the intermediate age groups (25-50 years) as well as in the middle and modest classes.

A satisfactory but restrained standard of living, in which the French seek savings strategies

  • Purchasing power appears to be a major topic for the French, how satisfied are they with their standard of living? While the overall data suggests related satisfaction – 60% say their income allows them to live “even if they want to” – they keep the very strong difference related to the level of income. The feeling of living as one wants thanks to one’s income is actually more marked in the richest households (89%), than in the most modest (38%), which testifies to a completely different fact.
  • The breakdown of limited spending and leisure spending may be one of the keys to understanding this lackluster feeling about purchasing power. On average, limited costs represent, according to the French, 72% of their budget, of which the remaining 28% is used for recreational purposes. “Forced” spending that weighs more heavily in the eyes of the most modest French citizens and middle classes than in the eyes of the richest, allowing themselves more leisure spending commensurate with their total budget (32% for in the richest, against 26% for the middle classes and 27% for the modest). Be that as it may, the share of “forced” costs will inevitably seem too heavy to the French. Only 16% are considered appropriate when 84% see it as too important, of which 45% were “very high”. In particular, women and people with low or moderate incomes are more often in this opinion.
  • As a result of all the pressure felt on purchasing power, the French indicate that their daily lives are now part of strategies for saving and reducing spending, regardless of their social background. They have already decided for over 70% of them to try reduce their energy expenditure. Reducing energy consumption at home and reducing travel are strategies already implemented by the majority. Also, for a large majority, improving their purchasing power goes through choice to buy raw products to cook yourselfrather than prepared products. Resell items to reach the ends is also considered, albeit to a lesser extent, but this approach is proving to be more popular with the younger generation. Thus, 58% of those under 50 say they have already done so. Less accustomed to the circular economy than their younger siblings, the older ones, on the other hand, have a greater reflex to cook their meals on their own or to reduce their travel. Other solutions proposed (discount supermarkets, termination of certain subscriptions, and refusal to purchase organic or ethical products) are also part of options that are already in place or expected to reduce costs.

The French savers mainly, but their austerity plans were thwarted

  • Regardless of their profile, most French aim to save, a goal deemed “important” by a clear majority (77%). It appears to be even more important to young people than their seniors-who have often already made some sort of savings or wealth. Also, the richer the French are, the more they value their savings (71%, 78% and 84% depending on the income bracket). But only a minority has been able to save as much as they want in the past 5 years: 37%. Only among the richest that most are satisfied with their ability to save (59%).
  • An additional sign of this failure, there is a strong difference between the ideal level of savings of the French and the real portion of their income that they believe they put aside each month. They want to accumulate an average of 21% of their incomemore saves only half (12%) according to their estimates. Young people with more ambitious savings goals than their seniors (29%) looked a little better than usual (18%). The richest, even though they value savings more, don’t aim for a higher level of savings than others (19%, a number that is even lower than the average ideal of 21%) … nor do they reporting higher levels of savings than the rest of the population (at least as part of their income).
  • Finally, faced with the famous dilemma of the cicada and ant, the French are divided but mostly choose the conservation and economy camp. In effect, for 61%, the most important thing is to save above all else, to prepare for the future, rather than focus on pleasure in the present moment. Signed that the question is however difficult to decide, the French are not very assertive in their choice, most (70%) prefer a compromise that combines savings and ease to varying degrees, rather than the radical choosing one option or another.

International situation: what is the impact on purchasing power?

  • As we have seen, the situation of the war in Ukraine was of great concern to the minds of the French in these first weeks of the conflict at the gates of Europe. A war that could not, in the own judgment of the French, be without consequences to their own way of life. Almost unanimously, (98%) they expected the impact of this war on their purchasing power, and for at least 47%, the consequences would be “very significant”. Important then, but largely negative. So, for 85% of French, weaken their purchasing power through this war. The oldest are more pessimistic than their younger counterparts on this subject.
  • Ang The French are often inclined to accept the risk of losing their purchasing power (62%), indicating that the current international situation is to legitimize sacrifices. However, a significant proportion (38%) find it difficult to accept this risk, which for them is not justified by the situation. A perspective on risk and sacrifice that transcends social situations, but remains more difficult to accept within the lowest -income households.

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