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Poll 40 will spend zero on holiday purchases
WASHINGTON (12/6/11)--Forty percent of consumers surveyed do not intend to spend any money on holiday purchases because they anticipate experiencing further financial distress in the future, said a November poll hosted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website.

The poll indicates that despite the increase in sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a significant number of people lack enough confidence in their financial future to begin spending, even on traditional holiday expenses, NFCC said. 

"Historically, consumers have put aside their financial concerns during the holidays, even if to their detriment, and spent at some level," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokeswoman. "These figures provide a snapshot of the desperate situation in which consumers find themselves, and how seriously they are taking their situation."

Of note is the statistically significant increase reflected in the year-over-year trend in polls between November 2010 and November 2011, there was a six percentage point increase in the number of consumers who indicated they will spend zero dollars during the holiday season, evidence of the depth of the financial despair in the country, said NFCC.

Also, slightly more than half of all poll respondents indicated they would cut back on holiday spending, because their financial situation is worse this year than last. Combining those who will cut back on spending with those who will not spend at all, 91% of consumers are concerned enough about their financial circumstances to remain on the spending sidelines this holiday season.

For the two categories with the lowest responses, 7% revealed that they will spend as they did in 2010, and just 3% will spend more than they did last year.

For professional assistance with financial questions, consumers can contact a certified consumer credit counselor at an NFCC member agency.

Consumers answered these questions in the November poll, noting that this holiday they would:

  • "Spend as I did last year because my financial life is stable"--7% (2010--7%);
  • "Cut back on spending, since I am worse off financially this year"--51% (2010--57%);
  • "Spend more than last year because I am in a better financial position"--3% (2010--2%); and
  • "Not spend at all, because I anticipate further financial distress"--40% (2010--34%).
The NFCC's November Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC website from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, and was answered by 1,232 individuals.

Earlier this month, a Consumer Federation of America (CFA)/Credit Union National Association (CUNA) nationwide survey indicated 8% of respondents plan to spend more on gifts and holiday items, with 41% of respondents saying they would spend less this holiday season. The results, announced Nov. 21, are nearly identical to the two groups' 2010 consumer predictions, when the CFA/CUNA survey found that one in 10 consumers would increase their holiday spending, and 41% at that time said they would cut their holiday spending (News Now Nov. 22).
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