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NEW YORK -- As the federal government battles the soon-to-hit debt limit, consumers are battling their own debt limit and, according to a new Harris Poll, everyday items are taking the hit.
The poll, which surveyed 2,163 adults between June 13 and June 20, found that 67 percent of respondents are choosing to purchase generic brands to save money, an increase from 60 percent who did this in February. In addition, this is the highest number reporting doing so since the question was first asked two years ago.
Of concern specifically to the convenience store industry, one in five of those surveyed said they have stopped buying coffee in the morning (21 percent); but on the bright side that number has stayed relatively consistent since October 2009. And coffee is not the only beverage feeling the heat. The number of people using refillable water bottles instead of buying bottled water hit its highest point -- 39 percent -- since June 2009.
In addition, 46 percent of those taking part in the poll said they are brown-bagging their lunch to save money. That figure was up just slightly from February (45 percent), according to a Harris Poll release.
Consumers are also cutting back on other items that were once considered routine, such as dry cleaning, visits to the hairstylist or barber, and subscriptions to magazines, cable television and newspapers.
"While there are some differences in the changes older and younger Americans are making to save money -- for example, older Americans who may no longer work are less likely to report beginning to brown bag their lunch, carpool or use mass transit, or purchase coffee in the morning -- what is clear is that most Americans are making some changes in order to cut back on expenses," according to the release. "While making more careful spending decisions may be good for a household budget, continual cutting back doesn't do much to help the overall economy grow. It seems a balance will need to be reached to make Americans feel secure in their own household's finances, as well as comfortable enough spending to allow the country's economy to grow once again."