According to the most recent Affluent Market Tracking Study by the American Affluence Research Center (AARC), 61% of respondents say they have no plans to make a major expenditure during the next 12 months — a 6-point increase from the prior survey.

None of the 17 spending categories is in positive territory. With one or two exceptions, the index for all categories is down from the Spring survey, typically by 3 to 5 points. According to the AARC, this suggests some retrenchment from the increased spending plans — evidence of “frugal fatigue” — evident in the Spring survey.

Some highlights from the housing expenditures segment of the Fall 2010 survey:

  • About 16% of respondents say that they’re not sure about remodeling their kitchen; 19% aren’t sure about remodeling their bathroom.
  • Among those who do plan to remodel their kitchen or master bath during the next 24 months, the items they plan to purchase often vary based on their home’s current value. For example, 63% of those with homes valued below $1 million plan to acquire new kitchen floors, while 31% of those with homes valued above $1 million plan to do so as part of their kitchen remodeling project.
  • A kitchen design specialist or a bath design specialist, respectively, were named most often as the primary source for purchases for major K+B projects. The Home Depot — followed by Lowe’s — was the second most frequently named source.

Background: These twice-yearly surveys by the AARC focus on the 11.4 million households representing the wealthiest 10% of all U.S. households as determined by The Federal Reserve Board. The report is based on responses from 439 men and women with an average net worth of $3.1 million, average investable assets of $1.7 million, and an average primary residence value of $1.1 million.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.