Consumers Say Thanksgiving Spending to Match Last Year Levels, Travel Plans Likely to Scale Back
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American Express Spending & Saving Tracker Assesses Shifts in Consumers` Holiday Spending NEW YORK--(Business Wire)-- With the holiday season almost upon us, a new survey from American Express (NYSE: AXP) reports that 30 percent of U.S. consumers plan to adjust this year`s travel plans for Thanksgiving - historically one of the busiest travel days of the year - but only 21 percent expect those expenses to decrease compared to last year. Today`s American Express Spending & Saving Trackeris the second in a monthly series of reports about consumers` views on the economy and what is motivating them to spend and save. The research sample of 2,009 adults included the general U.S. population1, as well as two sub-groups - the affluent2 and young professionals3. Respondents whose plans are changing said they`ll rely more on automobile travel, stay for a shorter time and cash-in rewards to help pay for holiday trips. The most significant changes are from the young professionals - 37 percent said they`ve adjusted their plans versus the affluent and general population (both 30 percent). * Nineteen percent of the general population who travelled last year will be staying home in 2009. * More than one in ten (11 percent) young professionals indicated they intend to drive as opposed to fly, compared to 7 percent of the general population and 6 percent of the affluent. * Eight percent of young professionals intend to stay fewer days for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, compared to the affluent and general population (both three percent). * Seven percent of the young professionals are using rewards points, miles and special offers to off-set the cost, versus four percent of the affluent and three percent of the general population. A Reason This Season The American Express Spending & Saving Trackerindicates that consumers have not measurably changed their overall outlook on spending compared to last month but they are starting to open their wallets for the holiday season. Against the backdrop of high unemployment and a soft housing market, however, they expect to be more selective. * As one might expect, consumers said they plan to spend significantly more over the next 30 days on travel, compared to last month (41 percent versus 33 percent). * Nearly eight in ten of the affluent expect to spend more, or about the same, over the next 30 days on dining out (78 percent). * Compared to last month, consumers expect to decrease spending in groceries (49 percent versus 40 percent), grooming (23 percent versus 16 percent) and tuition (19 percent versus five percent). "These results show that consumers do plan to open their wallets this holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving travel, but many are re-prioritizing those expenses," said Pamela Codispoti, American Express Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cardmember Services. "We expect a shift in what people are spending their money on, with our respondents showing that spending on dining and travel are very important to them during this holiday season." The Giving Season As the holiday season nears, more consumers are turning their attention to holiday shopping. The survey found that 80 percent of consumers intend to make end-of-year holiday gift purchases. In an encouraging sign, more than one in five (22 percent) consumers intend to do so in October, nearly 30 percent said they would wait until November and 28 percent expect to wait until December to shop. Significantly more women plan to make holiday purchases in October than their male counterparts (28 percent versus 16 percent). The American Express Spending & Saving Trackerasked consumers whether a discount - and what specific discount percentage - would motivate them to begin their holiday shopping in the next 30 days. * Eighty-two percent of respondents said they could be enticed by some sort of retail discount, with virtually all young professionals and affluent agreeing (96 percent and 94 percent respectively). * Young professionals seemed easier to motivate, saying they would be willing to begin spending with discounts as low as 10 percent. By contrast, the affluent said it would take a discount of nearly 30 percent, on average, to open their wallets. * Almost one in five (18 percent) of consumers could not be motivated by a discount and of that group more than half (58 percent) said they are on a strict budget; 43 percent indicated it is just too early to start holiday shopping. Tricks and Treats Halloween is now viewed by many as the unofficial start of the holiday season, as it`s a celebration that has grown in popularity among both adults and children. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2008 U.S. consumers spent $5.8 billion4 on Halloween activities. The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker found that 33 percent of consumers are shifting their Halloween plans compared to last year, and some, especially the young professionals are getting creative in order to save money. * Of young professionals, 36 percent are purchasing less expensive costumes and decorations compared to 16 percent of the affluent and 15 percent of the general population. * Twenty-six percent of young professionals are making their own costume or using hand-me-downs compared to 13 percent of the affluent and 11 percent of the general population. The American Express Spending & Saving Trackerresearch was completed online among a random sample of consumers aged 18+. The research sample of 2,009 adults surveyed the general U.S. population, as well as two sub-groups - the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research September 24-29, 2009. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.2 (or 4.2 among affluent and 4.4 among young professionals) percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. For access to previous American Express Spending & Saving Tracker results, please visit www.americanexpress.com/aboutus. About American Express American Express Company (www.americanexpress.com) is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850. 1 The research was conducted online September 24 - 29, 2009 among a random sample of 2,009 adults aged 18 and older. 2Affluent - defined as having a minimum annual household income of $100,000. 3Young Professional - defined as less than 30 years of age, having a college degree, and a minimum annual household income of $50,000. 4 National Retail Federation, NRF 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, September 29, 2009. American Express Desiree Fish, 212-640-4761 email@example.com or Burson-Marsteller Lisa Gordon-Miller, 212-614-4684 firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright Business Wire 2009
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