The economic climate of the past few years has been difficult on many consumers, but it seems not everyone is coming out of the recent recession on equal footing.

Research conducted by the market research firm Mintel shows that 45-54-year-olds (younger Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers) will definitely be taking longer to recover. For instance, 47 percent of that group (vs. 33 percent overall) say they “have only been spending money on necessities” for at least a year. 

Further, 51 percent of this age demographic, compared with 44 percent overall, said they intend to permanently decrease the amount of unnecessary “stuff” they will buy in the future. This group is also greatly concerned about retirement, with 39 percent saying they worry more about retirement now than they ever have.

Unequal impact

“This last recession has definitely not treated everyone equally,” said Susan Menke, vice president and behavioral economist at Mintel. “One reason could be that the younger Boomers are the age group that was just getting started when the severe double dip recessions of the 1980s hit, and they have never fully recovered.

Another reason may be that this is the ‘sandwich’ generation, burdened with educational expenses for their kids and, for some, healthcare costs for aging parents.”

Bright spots

There is some good news in the data, however. A full 44 percent of those aged 18-24 and 34 percent of those in the 35-44 age range say that they intend to make a permanent increase in the amount of money they save (vs. 28 percent overall).

More importantly, they are backing it up with actions -- about 10 percent of 18-44-year-olds have actually increased the amount they are saving in their retirement accounts in the last year.

“We continue to see numbers indicating that the recession was a wake-up call across age groups, just in different ways,” Menke says. “Everyone is more concerned about having adequate funds to retire after this recession. Unlike the Baby Boomers, however, younger age groups are able to do something about it, which offers a potential opportunity for financial services firms.”