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GCUA study Georgia consumers reluctant to spend
ATLANTA (5/25/11)--Georgia consumers remain reluctant to spend money on big ticket items, opting instead to squirrel away as much of their income as possible, according to new data and poll results from the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA). Coinciding with their desire to spend less, the balances of credit union members' savings accounts grew more than 4.6% during the first three months of 2011 while credit card debt decreased 4.2%, according to Georgia Credit Unions' "Paying Attention." The quarterly report compiles recent poll responses from more than 4,000 credit union members and aggregated data from credit unions statewide. "It's no surprise that Georgia consumers are still reluctant to get out there and spend given the continued economic uncertainty," said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. "Consumers are still working to save as much money as they realistically can and they're making progress at reducing their debt load." For example, 77.1% of people polled reported they are keeping their vehicles longer to avoid the cost of a new or used automobile. Of the 13.2% who said they plan to purchase a vehicle in 2011, only 16.4% indicated they were considering a new vehicle. Travel plans showed similar results. Only 20.9% of respondents plan to spend more on travel in 2011 than in 2010, while 37.8% plan to spend less, according to the GCUA poll. Also, 50.8% put off travel and/or vacation plans in 2010, while 51.5% said they spent less on travel in 2010 than they did a year earlier. In conjunction with the consumer poll, GCUA compiled savings and lending data from 39 credit unions that represent 91% of credit union assets and 84% of members in Georgia. The results reflect a continuing trend toward savings, while figures for lending varied, said GCUA. Findings include:
* Total savings deposits rose at a rate of 4.6% during the first quarter and 8.3% over the past 12 months; * Money market accounts grew 4.34% for the quarter and 15.47% over the past 12 months; * New-vehicle loans grew 0.52% during the quarter, but decreased 4.08% over the past year; * First mortgage balances increased 0.99% for the quarter and 9.04% during the past year; * The number of bankruptcy filings among members decreased 3.18% during March 2011 compared with March 2010; * Credit card balances decreased 4.22% during the first three months of the year, but have still increased 3.53% from a year ago; and * Balances for other forms of unsecured loans dropped 4.49% during the first quarter.


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