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Tax Changes Aren't Changing the Rich, Survey Finds

Mia Taylor

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- Some of the biggest worries about the future among the country's affluent are the price of gas, the impact of Obamacare and having enough money to retire comfortably, according to a recently released survey, Through the Looking Glass.

Conducted by Bob Shullman, former president of Ipsos Mendelsohn and creator of the Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer, the survey was developed to capture luxury and affluent attitudes by income level, age and gender.

As it turns out, Shullman says the survey's major takeaway is that there is substantial variation in attitudes when looked at through those prisms.

Take for instance the way affluent men versus affluent women view their economic prospects for the future. The survey confirms that "men are from Mars and women are from Venus," Shullman says.

"Men are super optimistic and are gonna spend more, and women are concerned about the future," he explained.

The survey, conducted online between Feb. 26 and March 6, groups respondents' answers into income brackets of $75,000-plus, $250,000-plus and $500,000-plus. Its questions cover such topics as top worries; plans for the next 12 months; shopping behaviors; impact of higher federal tax rates; and luxury shopping patterns.

When it comes to tax increases, respondents across the board said higher rates have not affected spending plans for the next 12 months, nor have they changed charitable giving plans.

"The upper-income people are not happy with what's going on with taxes , but they can adjust their lives to deal with it," Shullman says.

One of the other major findings of the survey is that Amazon is now the most popular retailer. It also found that when it comes to travel plans for the next 12 months, domestic travel is preferred over international destinations among the affluent.

"The reality of it is, Amazon sells a lot of luxury goods," Shullman explained. "You can buy a Cartier watch on Amazon. A lot of luxury brands are concerned about what Amazon is doing."

Of the top seven most popular stores identified in the survey, two are online - eBay and Amazon.

According to Shullman, that's because online stores offer convenience and cover a wide spectrum of categories.

"You can buy virtually anything from eBay and Amazon. And when you look at people with money, they have the devices and the opportunity to do it," he says.

As for preferring domestic travel, the affluent are likely concerned about terrorism and the political unrest and uncertainty in many countries around the world right now, Shullman says.

Shullman, who recently founded the Shullman Research Center, has been busy making the rounds with his survey, presenting it to luxury marketing councils in Chicago and New York City.

For the longtime luxury industry insider, few of the survey responses came as a surprise.

What is clear, though, according to the survey, is that if you're a man under 35 with a household income of $250,000 or more, your outlook and attitudes toward the future are very positive.

"My supposition is, if you're under 35 and living in $250,00-plus household -- things are pretty good" Shullman says. "Maybe it's that they haven't hit as many bumps in the road yet. Maybe it's naivete. But if you're making $250,000 a year and you'rw 30 years old, life is pretty good."

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