Pent Up Demand – Definition

Cite this article as:"Pent Up Demand – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated September 14, 2019, last accessed October 27, 2020,


Pent Up Demand Definition

Pent up demand is a build-up of demand for goods and services in an economy where consumers are unable or unwilling to make purchases to satisfy the demand at the present time.

Pent up demand happens during periods when consumers are reluctant or unable to make needed or desired purchases. This generally occurs during times of economic uncertainty – such as a recession.

Economists use this measure to forecast consumer spending once consumers are collectively ready to purchase goods or supplies to meet the pent up demand. This normally occurs at the end of the period of economic uncertainty.

A Little More on What is Pent Up Demand

During periods of economic uncertainty, consumers often defer making purchases and save more of their financial resources.

When the economic uncertainty subsides, consumers purchase at a higher rate because of the pent-up demand for the goods or services. This increased rate of purchase creates a cycle of increased economic activity.

Pent up demand is most evident in durable consumer goods. For example, consumers may forgo purchasing an automobile during uncertain economic times. They repair or otherwise make do with their vehicle until economic conditions improve. Once conditions improve, there is a surge in spending.

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