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The demographics of consumer demand

Details are beginning to emerge from the 2010 census offering retailers a new source of consumer insights to guide merchandising strategies. For example, the percentage of married couples compared with 10 years ago continues to decline, while the age at which people get married has increased, and the average household size has declined slightly, according to data from the Census Bureau’s 2010 Current Population Survey contained in America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2010.   

The median age at first marriage for men is now 28.2 compared to 26.8 a decade ago and the comparable figures for women are 26.1 compared to 25.1 a decade ago. The percentage of adults who are married now stands at 54.1% compared with 57.35 in 2000, while the average household size has declined to 2.59 from 2.62, due in part to a rise in the number of one person households, which now stands at 27%, compared with 25% in 2000 and only 13% in 1960.

While the census report talks about the “average” household, the data reveals that description applies to a smaller and smaller percentage. Today, only 21% of households are headed by a married couple who have children living with them under the age of 18, down from 24% a decade earlier. Meanwhile, only 66% of children now live in a household with two married parents compared with 69% a decade earlier.