WASHINGTON — More consumers plan to spend more than last year, and fewer consumers less than last year, according to the 14th annual holiday spending survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association.
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. (Consumers almost always spend more than they say they plan to spend, so year-to-year comparisons are most meaningful.)
"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," said Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association.
The intention of consumers to increase holiday spending from last year is consistent with, and may well reflect, perceived improvement in their financial situation. The five percentage point gap between those who said their financial situation was better (24%) and those who said it was worse (29%) was the smallest since CFA and CUNA began asking the question in 2009. In 2011, this gap was 18 percentage points (19% better, 37% worse).
Survey respondents were asked if "recent controversies over federal government spending and borrowing" had affected their holiday spending plans. About one-half (51%) said that they had, with 18% saying "very much," 16% "somewhat," and 16 percent "a little."
Lower-income families were more likely to be affected by federal budget problems than high-income families. Nearly three-fifths (59%) of those in households with incomes under $50,000, but less than two-fifths (37%) of those in households with incomes above $100,000, said they were affected.
"Lower-income households are more dependent on federal jobs and expenditures than high-income households," noted Stephen Brobeck, CFA's executive director. "While Food Stamp expenditures are being cut, stock prices have soared," he added.