(originally posted on USAA’s Inside the Mission blog)
Tomorrow is Black Friday, followed next week by Cyber Monday, and judging from the overflowing shopping carts and massive checkout lines I’m seeing around San Antonio, consumers are doing some big-time buying. While some areas of the country remain mired in an economic slump, it certainly appears around these parts that consumer spending is picking up and that can only be good news for the economy.
But don’t take my word for it — look at the research. According to the third annual holiday spending survey commissioned by USAA, more people plan to buy gifts this year compared to last year (96 percent vs. 90 percent). The survey also shows that the number of respondents who plan to create a holiday gift budget has declined over the past three years — from 64 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in 2011.
My colleague, June Walbert, a USAA financial planner, says the survey findings indicate that people may be suffering from “budget fatigue.” But, of course, USAA encourages all shoppers to commit to a budget before hitting the mall this holiday season, so they don’t overspend into debt.
According to the survey, nearly half of this year’s respondents will pay for gifts using a credit card, which is slightly up from 45 percent in 2009. Of the consumers who plan to use a credit card to make holiday purchases, the majority (73 percent) plan to pay off their balance immediately, but the rest will wait a few months, or make only the minimum payment required.