Jan. 4, 2012

Discover U.S. Spending Monitorsm Consumer Confidence Remains Steady In December

Consumers’ Views About the Economy and Their Finances Are Improving While Post-Holiday Spending Intentions Fall

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 4, 2012-- Consumer confidence remained fairly consistent in December, as consumers viewed the economy and their finances as improving, but consumers are heading into the New Year with conservative spending intentions according to the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor. The Monitor, a 4-year-old daily poll tracking economic confidence and spending intentions of nearly 8,200 consumers throughout the month, recorded a 1.3-point decline from the previous month to 85.0 percent.

More than 23 percent of consumers felt economic conditions were getting better in December, a rise of more than 4 points from November. Similarly, those who believe economic conditions were getting worse declined by nearly 2 points from November to 53 percent.

The percentage of consumers who rate the economy as poor dropped 3 points from last month to 58 percent. While only 9 percent of consumers rate the economy as good or excellent, a 1-point increase from November.

Views of Personal Finances Improve

Consumer sentiment toward their personal finances improved from last month as well.

  • 33 percent of consumers rate their personal finances as good or excellent and 24 percent rate their personal finances as poor, unchanged from November.
  • Consumers believing their personal finances are getting better increased for the fourth consecutive month to 19 percent, up 1 point compared to November. The percent of consumers who believe their personal finances are getting worse declined to 49 percent, down nearly 2 points from November and the first time this number has been below 50 percent in seven months.

With Less Money Left Over, Consumers Plan to Pull Back on Spending Next Month

Consistent with previous Monitor reports around the holidays, fewer consumers expect to have money left over after they finish paying their monthly bills. Accordingly, they plan to cut back next month on spending.

  • 45 percent of consumers expect to have money left over after paying monthly bills, a 3-point decrease from November.
  • Nearly 29 percent of consumers who expect to have money left over anticipate that they will have less money left over after they finish paying their monthly bills than they did last month. This is a 6-point increase from November.
  • Consumers planning to spend less in the next month more than doubled, rising from 15 percent in November to 31 percent in December.

Consumers’ Plans For Discretionary Spending Are Conservative

Consumers are heading into 2012 with lower discretionary spending intentions as well.

  • Consumers planning to spend less on discretionary entertainment expenses, such as going out to dinner or the movies, increased by 3 points to 48 percent in December and those planning to spend the same or more in this category declined 2 points from November to 49 percent in December.
  • Consumers planning to spend less on major personal purchases, such as a vacation, increased by 2 points to 47 percent for the month. Forty-nine percent plan to spend the same or more on this category, which is at the same level as in November.
  • On home improvement purchases, 50 percent of consumers planned to spend less in the month ahead, up 2 points; 45 percent plan to spend the same or more, down more than 2 points from November.

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 http://www.discoverfinancial.com.

Source: Discover Financial Services

Matthew Towson, 224-405-5649

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