October 06, 2010

Discover® U.S. Spending Monitorsm Holds Steady In September

Overall Views About the Economy Unchanged but Younger Consumers See Economic Conditions and Their Own Finances Getting Worse

RIVERWOODS, Ill., Oct 06, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Consumers' views about the economy were unchanged from August to September, but the number of consumers feeling that their personal finances are getting worse rose for the sixth consecutive month and reached a nine-month high, according to the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor.

The Monitor, a poll of 8,200 consumers tracking consumer confidence and spending intentions on a daily basis, held steady in September, dropping just 0.5 points to 85.7. Overall, 57 percent of consumers rated the economy as poor, unchanged from August and 51 percent felt economic conditions were getting worse, just 1 point higher than August. But the number of consumers who felt their personal finances were getting worse rose for the sixth straight month to 49 percent. In April, just 43 percent felt their finances were getting worse. Economic and financial uncertainty has more consumers planning to trim discretionary spending in the month ahead.

Economic and Financial Confidence Declines Most Among Younger Consumers, 18-39

The decline in economic and financial confidence was most prevalent among younger consumers, ages 18-39. For the first time since January, 50 percent of consumers in this age group felt economic conditions were getting worse, a 4-point increase from the previous month. Younger consumers also felt their financial situations deteriorating. In September, 47 percent of those ages 18-39 said their finances were getting worse, a 3-point increase from August and a nine-month high.

In comparison, older consumers were feeling slightly more optimistic than their younger counterparts. Among consumers between the ages of 40-65, there was a 1-point drop to 54 percent who felt economic conditions were getting worse, and 51 percent of those 65 and older felt economic conditions were getting worse, unchanged from last month. There was a 1-point drop to 52 percent in the number of consumers ages 40-65 who felt their finances were getting worse, and 52 percent of those 65 and above said their finances were getting worse, the same as last month.

"Younger consumers have always been a bit more optimistic about the economy and their finances than their older counterparts," said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and product management for Discover. "Their optimism clearly faded in September and it will be interesting to see whether the economic confidence among this age group can be restored in the months ahead."

Consumers' Planning to Hold the Line or Cut Discretionary Spending in the Next Month

Only 20 percent of consumers said they plan to spend more in the next 30 days, just 1 point higher than last month. Monitor data also showed a change in discretionary spending intentions from consumers, as slightly more said they plan to reduce discretionary spending in the following areas:

  • 48 percent plan to spend less on going out to dinner or the movies, unchanged from August.
  • 50 percent plan to spend less on home improvements, 2 points higher than August and the highest since January.
  • 48 percent plan to spend less on a vacation or gym membership, 3 points higher than July.

Fewer Than Half Have Money Left Over After Paying Monthly Bills

Nearly 18 months have passed since the last time a majority of consumers reported having money left over after paying monthly bills. This trend continued in September as just 47 percent expected to have money left over, unchanged from August.

However, 80 percent of those who do have money left over after paying monthly bills planned on having the same or more money left over than the previous month, the second month in a row this number topped 80 percent.

Only 37 percent said they were expecting an income shortfall or added expense in the next 30 days, unchanged from August.

For more Discover U.S. Spending Monitor survey data, charts and information, please visit

About Discover U.S. Spending Monitor

The Discover® 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 (

About Discover

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

SOURCE: Discover Financial Services

Matthew Towson