African-American households are cutting back their spending in many categories, including food, clothing and basic household items, while investing more in home repair, home entertainment and consumer electronics. Although they are trimming back, black consumers are still spending more than their white counterparts on most of these products.

According to the newest edition of “The Buying Power of Black America” report, African-American households are tightening their belts when it comes to dining out, expanding their wardrobes, and leisure activities out of the home. At the same time, they are increasing their spending on home repairs and remodeling, audio and visual electronics, and contributions to churches. The report also estimates that black households collectively had earned income of $679 billion in 2004.

“More than ever, African-Americans are seeking to get the most for their dollars,” said Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News and publisher of the report. “As they spend more time at home with their families, black consumers are focused on increasing the quality of home life. However, the fact that they are still spending more on average than whites on certain food, apparel and media-related products demonstrates that their lifestyles are not changing radically.”

African-American households spent more per capita than white households in the categories of food, apparel, consumer electronics, media, personal care products, gifts, telephone service and appliances.

This trend is highlighted in the annually published report from Target Market News, a 17-year-old Chicago-based research and information company that specializes in tracking African-American marketing, media and consumer behavior. “The Buying Power of Black America,” which has been published annually for the past 12 years, is one of the most widely quoted sources of information on black consumer spending. The report details how millions of dollars have been spent by black consumers in more than 500 categories.

“This change in expenditures by black consumers means that obtaining and holding on to their loyalty will be more competitive for marketers,” said Smikle. “This represents a time of opportunity for those companies that can demonstrate they are serious about providing value for these customers.”

According to the report, black households had $679 billion in earned income in 2004, an increase of 3.5% over the $656 earned in 2003.

Among the products and services that showed the greatest one-year increase were sound systems (+127%), computer online services (+38%) and sports and recreational equipment (+19%), dishwashers (+ 42%), washing machines (+45%), and contributions to churches (+19%).

“The Buying Power of Black America,” a 104-page report, is based on an analysis of expenditures reported by 3,000 black households for the Department of Commerce¬ís Consumer Expenditure Survey.