September 07, 2011

Discover U.S. Spending Monitorsm Consumer Confidence Falls For Third Straight Month In August, But Spending Intentions Hold Steady

Middle-Aged Consumers More Pessimistic About Economy Than Other Age Groups

RIVERWOODS, Ill., Sep 07, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Consumer confidence fell in August for the third straight month, as the Discover U.S. Spending MonitorSM dropped to its lowest level since March 2009. Since January, the Monitor has been in a freefall, dropping nearly 13 points over the last eight months. The daily poll that tracks economic confidence and spending intentions of around 8,200 consumers a month now stands at 80.5, 2.2 points lower than July.

The monitor continues to show increased concerns from Americans about the broader economy. Uncertainty over the debt crisis and wild swings in the stock market may have played into those concerns last month. In August, 64 percent of Americans rated the economy as poor, up from 62 percent in July; 64 percent of consumers say economic conditions are worsening, which is a 5-point jump from July.

But while consumers continue to be down on the economy, they were feeling slightly better about their own finances. In August, 33 percent of consumers rated their finances as good or excellent, 3 points higher than the month prior. However, for the third straight month, over half, 53 percent, of consumers feel their finances are getting worse, 1 point lower than July.

Middle-Aged Consumers ages 40-64 More Pessimistic About the Economy than Other Age Groups

The biggest driver of the Monitor's decline in August came from middle-aged consumers. For example:

  • 69 percent of consumers ages 40-64 rated the economy as poor, a 5-point jump from July, compared to 61 percent of consumers ages 18-39 who rated the economy as poor, 1 point lower than July, and 63 percent of consumers ages 65 and above who share that concern, just 2 points higher than July.
  • 68 percent of consumers ages 40-64 felt economic conditions were worsening, 6 points higher than July's number, compared to 60 percent of consumers ages 18-39, 4 points higher than July, and 65 percent of consumers 65 and older, 5 points higher than July.

Consumer Spending Intentions Hold Steady In August

The number of consumers planning to cut discretionary spending in categories surveyed in the Monitor fell in August after an increase in July. Instead, consumers plan to spend the same over the next 30 days in the following areas:

  • 36 percent plan to spend the same in the month ahead on going out to dinner, movies and sporting events, 1 point higher than July
  • 31 percent plan on spending the same next month on home improvement projects, 3 points higher than the prior month, and
  • 34 percent plan on spending the same on a major purchase, such as a vacation

In addition, 45 percent of consumers said they plan on saving or investing the same amount over the next 30 days, 1 point higher than July. Forty-two percent plan on saving less, down 3 points from July's record high. Nine percent of consumers plan to save and invest more in the month ahead, 1 point higher than last month and the first increase the Monitor has reported since January.

More Consumers Planning to Have Money Left Over, No Additional Expenses in the Month Ahead

August also brought an increase in the number of consumers planning to have money left over after paying monthly bills. Forty-seven percent of consumers said they planned on having money left over, compared to 45 percent in July. However, it's been 29 straight months since this number topped 50 percent.

Another sign that consumers may be feeling a little less pressure on their budgets was a rise in the number of consumers not expecting an added expense or income shortfall over the next 30 days. Forty-five percent said they were not expecting any additional expenses in the month ahead, up 2 points from July. Forty-one percent said they are anticipating additional expenses, down 1 point from July, but August was the sixth straight month this figure has been over 40 percent.

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