June 06, 2012

Consumer Confidence Holds Steady In May According To The Discover U.S. Spending Monitorsm

Lower Gas Prices Slightly Boost Spending Intentions

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 6, 2012-- Consumer confidence in the economy remained flat in May, while lower gas prices gave a slight boost to spending intentions, in particular for summer vacation plans. The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor, a nearly five-year-old daily poll tracking economic confidence and spending intentions of nearly 8,200 consumers throughout the month, declined 1.2 points to 95.5 in May.

The percentage of respondents who said the U.S. economy was improving held steady at 33 percent in May, even though slightly fewer respondents said their personal finances were improving. Overall, 37 percent said their personal finances were good or excellent, a 2-point decline from the month earlier.

Highlights of Discover U.S. Spending Monitor Results
  March   April   May
    2012   2012   2012
Discover U.S. Spending Monitor Index   96.5   96.7   95.5
U.S. Economy Improving   35%   33%   33%
Personal Finances Improving   25%   27%   25%

Discretionary Spending Intentions Rise

Declining gas prices had an effect on consumers’ attitudes toward discretionary spending, for things like entertainment and vacations. In May, 46 percent reported that gas prices were causing them to change spending and vacation plans – a drop of 7 percentage points from the month earlier. Likewise, 57 percent of consumers in May said that gas prices would affect discretionary spending, compared to 61 percent in April.

Overall, 17 percent of consumers said they were planning a major personal purchase – which could include a vacation – in the coming month, a jump of 4 percentage points from the month before. Slightly more consumers also plan to spend more in the coming month on discretionary personal expenses, moving from 10 percent to 12 percent.

In general, spending intentions on other categories remained the same or decreased:

  • Correlating with lower gas prices, 37 percent of respondents planned to spend more on household expenses like gas and groceries in the coming month, a decrease of 7 percentage points from the month before.
  • Spending intentions for household improvements remained steady, with 17 percent planning to spend more, compared to 18 percent in April.
  • When asked about general spending intentions, 46 percent of consumers said they were spending about the same in May as they were in April, a rise of 4 percentage points from the prior month’s report. In addition, the number of people planning to spend the same in June remained steady, moving from 50 to 51 percent of consumers.

Confidence in Personal Finances Shows Slight Decline; Economic Attitude Remains Steady

Attitudes on personal finances declined slightly in May. Twenty-five percent said their personal finances were improving, a 2-point drop from the month earlier. However, 44 percent reported their finances were getting worse, a 1-point drop from April.

In May, 39 percent of respondents reported having no money left over after paying bills, a 1-point increase from April, while 35 percent said that they anticipated a shortfall of funds or increase in expenses during the next month, the same as the month before.

In terms of the economy, the overall response remained steady. In May, 33 percent reported that economic conditions are better, while 47 percent reported the conditions are worse – the same figures as April.

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, 224-405-5649