Monitor Shows Second Consecutive Increase as Consumers' Economic Outlook Improves and Spending Intentions Stabilize
RIVERWOODS, Ill., Mar 03, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor rose 2.3 points in February to 87.5
(based out of 100), as the economic outlook among consumers improved and
discretionary spending intentions stabilized. A Monitor-low 35 percent
of consumers are concerned about additional expenses or an income
shortfall in the month ahead, while more consumers are expecting to have
money left over after paying monthly bills.
There was no improvement this month in consumer attitudes toward their
personal finances. While discretionary spending intentions have
stabilized, there is little indication consumers are planning to
increase spending in the months ahead.
Consumer Spending Intentions Stabilize; Monitor-high 57% Percent Plan
to Keep Spending Intentions Flat
February saw consumer spending intentions stabilize after months of
cutbacks. A Monitor-high 57 percent planned to spend the same amount of
money in the month ahead as they did in February, breaking the previous
high by 3 points. Discretionary spending intentions also leveled off
after months of cutbacks. In the last two years, February marked only
the third month in which all discretionary spending categories surveyed
showed less than a majority of consumers planning to spend less.
However, rather than increase spending, consumers plan to keep their
discretionary spending intentions the same. Forty-one percent expect to
spend the same in March as they did in February on discretionary items
like going out to dinner or the movies, a 4-point increase. Thirty-three
percent plan on spending the same as the prior month on home improvement
purchases, also a 4-point increase, and 38 percent plan on spending the
same on major purchases like a vacation, a 3-point increase. A majority
of consumers even expects no changes in their savings and investing, 52
percent, and spending on household expenses like gas and groceries, 62
"After months of cutbacks, we've seen two months in a row now in which
consumer spending intentions appear to have stabilized," said Julie
Loeger, senior vice president of brand and product management for
Discover. "Consumers seem to be comfortable as to where they are in
terms of spending."
Monitor-low 35% of Consumers Concerned About Added Expenses, Income
Consumers also were more comfortable with their budgets in February.
Just 35 percent of consumers are expecting an added expense or income
shortfall in the month ahead, a Monitor low, while nearly half, 49
percent, are not expecting one. More consumers in February, 48 percent,
also were confident they would have money left over after paying monthly
bills versus January, 47 percent. On a less positive note, this was the
11th straight month this number has remained below 50
percent. Of those who do have money left over, 69 percent said they
would have the same money left over as the previous month, a 3-point
Fewer Consumers Feel Economic Conditions Are Getting Worse, Views on
While a majority of consumers, 57 percent, continue to rate the economy
as poor, there was a decrease in the number of consumers in February who
felt economic conditions were getting worse. Overall, 46 percent felt
the economy was deteriorating, a 3-point decrease from January.
Twenty-nine percent felt economic conditions were improving, a 2-point
increase from the prior month.
Consumers' financial outlook remained unchanged in February. Forty-seven
percent feel their finances are getting worse, the same as last month.
"Despite a little improvement in economic sentiment, it was not enough
to improve consumer attitudes about their finances," said Loeger.
"However, the Monitor has shown in the last couple of months an increase
in the number of consumers balancing their budgets and having money left
over. If this trend continues, it hopefully will give consumers some
About Discover U.S. Spending Monitor
The Discover(R) U.S. Spending MonitorSM is a monthly
index of consumer spending intentions and capacity that is based on
interviews with a random sample of 8,200 U.S. adults conducted at a rate
of 275 per night. In addition to spending, the survey asks consumers
their opinions on the U.S. economy and their personal finances. The
Monitor began in May 2007 with a base index of 100. Surveys are
conducted by Rasmussen Reports, an independent survey research firm (www.rasmussenreports.com).
Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment
services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S.
financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become
one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company
operates the Discover
card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers personal and
student loans, online savings accounts, certificates of deposit and
money market accounts through its Discover
Bank subsidiary. Its payment businesses consist of Discover Network,
with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the
nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a
global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and
territories. For more information, visit www.discoverfinancial.com.
SOURCE: Discover Financial Services