October 05, 2011

Discover U.S. Spending Monitorsm Consumer Confidence Falls To Near-Record Low As Spending Intentions Drop

Monitor Reports that 28 % of Consumers Rate Their Personal Finances as 'Poor'

RIVERWOODS, Ill., Oct 05, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Lack of consumer confidence was prevalent in September as the Discover U.S. Spending MonitorSM dropped to its lowest level since February 2009.

The Monitor, a 4-year-old daily poll tracking economic confidence and spending intentions of nearly 8,200 consumers throughout the month, recorded a 3.5 point drop to 77.0 percent. This is only 1.3 points higher than the record low reported in February 2009. The same report also found that 66 percent of consumers rated the economy as poor, up 2 points from last month, and just 1-point lower than the record-high of 67 percent in February 2009, amid the height of the recession.

These September findings are a strong indicator that consumers across the board continue to have a deteriorating view on the economy, with 63 percent of Americans believing that economic conditions are worsening, a viewpoint relatively unchanged from last month when 64 percent said the same.

Attitudes Toward Personal Finances Reach New Low

Consumer sentiment toward personal finances also grew negative in September.

  • A record 57 percent of Americans said their personal finances were worsening, a jump of 4 percentage points who said the same in August and 1 percentage point higher than the Monitor's prior high of 56 percent in November 2008.
  • Another record 28 percent of consumers rated their personal finances as "poor" - up from 25 percent in August and 2 percentage points higher than the Monitor's prior high of 26 percent in December 2009.
  • At the same time, the number of consumers who say their personal finances are getting better dropped 1 point from last month to 15 percent.

Record Number of Consumers Plan to Save & Invest Less, While Spending Also Tightens

As fewer consumers have money left over after paying monthly bills, they are planning to cut spending, and save and invest less in the month ahead.

  • 44 percent of consumers will not have any money left over after paying monthly bills, up from 40 percent in August.
  • 45 percent of consumers plan to save and invest less in the next month, up 3 percentage points from August-- a new record.
  • 26 percent plan to spend less in the month ahead, up three points from August.

Discretionary Spending Intentions Fall

While discretionary spending intentions held steady in August, a majority of consumers were planning to cut discretionary expenditures in September.

  • 52 percent said they will spend less on home improvements, up from 50 percent.
  • 53 percent said they were pulling back on discretionary and entertainment expenses, such as going out to dinner or the movies.
  • 52 percent report they plan to cut spending on major personal purchases, such as gym memberships and vacations, up two points from last month.

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