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CUNA/CFA: Holiday Spending Expected To Increase This Year
WASHINGTON (12/2/13)--More consumers plan to increase their spending during this year's holiday season, and fewer consumers plan to spend less than they did last year, according to the 14th annual holiday spending survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Credit Union National Association.

Click to view larger image Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel (left) and Consumer Federation of America Executive Director Stephen Brobeck announce the results of their 14th annual joint survey on consumer holiday spending expectations. More than half (51%) of respondents with annual incomes below $25,000 said they would use most of a $5,000 windfall to pay down debt. Less than one-third (32%) of those with incomes above $100,000, said they would do the same. (CUNA Photo)
Since 2012, the percentage who said they would spend more than the previous year rose from 12 to 13, while the percentage who said they would spend less declined from 38 to 32. These changes continue the trend from 2011, when only 8% said they would spend more while 41% said they would spend less.

Nearly one-in-four (24%) said their financial situation was better this year than in 2012, while 29% said their financial situation was worse. The percentage of those who said it was worse was the smallest since CFA and CUNA began asking the question in 2009.

This year, 1,002 persons were interviewed by landline or cell phone between Nov. 7 and 10. 

The results are the strongest that the CFA/CUNA survey has seen since 2006, two years before the recession began, CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel noted. "Put differently, our holiday spending survey has shown five years of improvement in a row following the abysmal readings of 2008," he said.

"The survey suggests that holiday spending will increase at least as fast as last year. It is also encouraging that fewer Americans see their economic status as worsening, despite on-going federal budget issues in Washington," Hampel added.

The survey also revealed:
  • Men (15%) are more likely to increase spending than women (12%);
  • Respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely to increase spending than any other age group, with 27% saying they were likely to do so; and
  • African Americans (20%) and Hispanics (17%) were more likely to report increased spending plans than non-Hispanic Whites (12%).
Upper-income households were also marginally less likely to report an increase in holiday spending plans, and were also least likely to report a planned decrease in spending.

About one-half (51%) of survey respondents said recent controversies over federal government spending and borrowing had affected their holiday spending plans. Lower-income families were more likely to be affected by federal budget problems than high-income families.

The CFA and CUNA suggested that consumers looking to spend less this holiday season avoid impulse buying by sticking to a predetermined budget for gifts and other holiday items, use the Internet to comparison shop, and pay off any debts quickly.

Starting a holiday savings account or curbing spending by finding low- or no-cost ways to celebrate the holidays are also options, CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck said.

CUNA and CFA's tips to help consumers manage holiday debt, which traditionally accompany the survey findings, also note that holiday club accounts can be found at many credit unions, as can credit cards that typically have lower rates than those of other financial institutions.


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