| NEW YORK, July 2
NEW YORK, July 2 Americans plan to spend less,
travel more and have plenty of cookouts over the Independence
Day holiday this week, according to surveys.
Spending for the July 4 holiday is expected to be down 12
percent, according to a Visa poll released on Sunday, dropping
to an average of $191 per person.
Two-thirds of all Americans plan on a simple cookout,
according to a National Retail Federation survey released in
But both surveys showed a significant minority of people
will not celebrate at all -- Visa survey said 21 percent and the
retail group said 10.6 percent.
The retail federation projected that 67.6 percent of
Americans plan a cookout or barbecue, while 48.5 percent will
watch fireworks. Some 12.6 percent planned to travel or take a
vacation over the holiday.
Cynthia Brough, a spokeswoman for the American Automobile
Association, said the organization is projecting 42.3 million
Americans will drive 50 miles or more during the Independence
Day holiday, up 4.9 percent from last year.
Lower gas prices, at $3.33 a gallon nationwide compared with
$3.55 a year ago, are a factor in the longer drives.
Despite economic concerns, "What the survey indicates is
that Americans have an appetite for travel...," Brough said.
Median spending on trips, according to the AAA, is expected
to be $749 per person, down 7 percent from last year's total of
around $800 per person. "While more people are traveling,
they're economizing," Brough said.
The drop in spending is not limited to travel costs. Some 43
percent of Americans were not planning to buy any patriotic
merchandise, including flags, apparel and decorations, compared
with 23 percent who were, according to the retail survey.
Midwesterners will spend the most to celebrate the holiday,
laying out an average of $211, while those in the Northeast will
spending $40 less, the Visa survey found.
According to Jason Alderman, senior director of global
financial education at Visa, the holiday is bigger in Midwestern
cities and towns, while Northeastern cities have more
concentrated gatherings and firework displays.
The distance Americans will travel this year will rise by
150 miles to an average of 723 miles per traveler, and 18
percent of all trips will be in excess of 1,500 miles, an
increase over last year's 10 percent.
Factors contributing to the increase include air travel and
the holiday falling on a Wednesday, which allows many Americans
to extend their long weekends into trips as long as nine days,
including two weekends.
Eighty-four percent of those traveling will do so by car; 8
percent will fly; and 8 percent will travel by train or cruise