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Can’t pass up a bargain? You’re not alone. Most Americans say they’d rather buy a lower-price product than shell out a premium for something labeled “made in the U.S.A,” even if it meant that the cheaper item was made overseas, according to a new study by AP-GfK Poll. In a survey of 1,076 adults conducted online from March 31 to April 4, nearly three out of four cited high prices as a barrier to buying goods manufactured in the United States. Just 9 percent of respondents, in fact, said they only buy American. As it turns out, the haves are no less likely than the have-nots to pass up an offer.
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When asked to choose between two nearly identical styles of pants—one, a $50 pair manufactured abroad, and the other, a $85 pair made in the United States—67 percent of respondents opted for cheaper pair. Only 30 percent would spring for the more expensive, American-made version.
While lost jobs and stagnant incomes might be to blame, the survey found that the statistic held true even for people in households earning $100,000 or more a year.
“While presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are vowing to bring back millions of American jobs lost to China and other foreign competitors, public sentiment reflects core challenges confronting the U.S. economy,” wrote Josh Boak and Emily Swanson for the Associated Press. “Incomes have barely improved, forcing many households to look for the most convenient bargains instead of goods made in America.”
“Employers now seek workers with college degrees, leaving those with only a high school degree who once would have held assembly lines jobs in the lurch,” they added. “And some Americans who work at companies with clients worldwide see themselves as part of a global market.”
Or maybe we’re just a bunch of cheapskates.
Intriguingly, the AP-GfK Poll contravenes the results of a study commissioned by Women’s Wear Daily in 2012.
According to that survey, more than three in four Americans consider the U.S. origin of a garment an “extremely” or “somewhat” important factor in their purchase decision.
But even one of the analysts behind the poll had his doubts about the veracity of those claims.
“When you ask people to pinpoint their feelings about something, you have to take the numbers with a grain of salt,” Marshal Cohen, head of NPD Group, said then. “If 40 percent of the people say they care, maybe just 20 percent would act on that. The jobs market has had a big effect on conscious consumer priorities, but the wallet doesn’t always follow when it comes to purchasing.”