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Consumers Feeling More Secure as 2014 Flies By

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With the holiday season fast approaching, Americans say they’re feeling more financially stable, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. 81% of employed Americans report that their jobs are more than or just as stable as one year ago (up significantly from 69% in 2011). The outlook is picking up, but still less than half of consumers expect finances to change for the better in the next six months (45% vs. 39% in 2013). An increase in stability could signal a higher willingness to spend, as nearly three quarters of consumers (73% vs. 66% in 2013) say they’re spending as much or more than they expected on life’s little extras, like fashion accessories and leisure activities.

View/download the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

“As Americans feel more secure about their jobs and finances, they tend to spend more on personal items,” said David Rabkin, Senior Vice President of Consumer Lending Products at American Express. “Our survey respondents report that they’re spending more or the same on some big ticket items that they may have deferred during the last few years.”

Large & Small: Where Americans Are Spending it All

With less than four months to go in 2014, more Americans say they’re planning to make large purchases before the end of the year (62% vs. 51% in 2013). Additionally, more consumers report having already purchased big ticket items this year (42% vs. 39% in 2013), including:

  • Major household appliance, such as a fridge or stove (21% vs. 19% in 2013)
  • Car (19% vs. 17% in 2013)
  • Significant home renovation (10%, on par with 2013)

Perhaps having made these large purchases out of necessity, almost half of Americans say they experienced unforeseen expenses this year (47%), with car trouble topping the list (46%), followed by healthcare (44%), home-related improvements and repairs (32%) and education (13%).

While Americans are buying more big-ticket items, they say they’ve also spent on smaller discretionary items, reportedly spending more than last year across a variety of categories:

Category 2014 2013 % change
Technology (e.g. computers, TVs, auto electronics) 46% 39% 18%
Leisure (e.g. dining, entertainment, travel) 45% 34% 32%
Fashion (e.g. clothing, accessories, jewelry) 42% 36% 17%
Home improvements/ remodeling 35% 32% 9%
Self-maintenance (e.g. health/fitness, grooming) 34% 27% 26%
Dining out 28% 20% 40%

From haircuts to manicures and pedicures, Americans say they’ve indulged more on “selfie spends” this year. Overall, they have spent more on self-maintenance than previous years (34% vs. 27% 2013), specifically making more purchases in:

  • Health and fitness (24% vs. 20% in 2013)
  • Grooming/hygiene, such as hairstyling, manicures, pedicures etc. (20% vs. 16% in 2013)

Consumers Saving Slower and Searching for Deals

With increases in spending, piggy banks are feeling lighter this year, as Americans report having saved less this year than last year ($7,153 vs. $9,944 at this time in 2013).

This doesn’t mean Americans aren’t still eager to save money on what they buy, as the majority of Americans (85% vs. 80% in 2013) say they check for discounts at least once a week. The top ways consumers look for discounts and coupons include email promotions from retailers (19% vs. 25% in 2013); coupon aggregator sites 18% vs. 12% in 2013); group buying sites (18% vs. 12% in 2013) and social media (12% vs. 8% in 2013), among other resources (6% – on par with 2013). In fact, 35% say they look for discounts once a day or more often (vs. 33% in 2013).

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,507 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as an affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by Ebiquity, formerly Echo Research, between August 20 -22, 2014. The results reported in this release have an overall margin of error of +/- 2.5 at the 95 percent level of confidence. Visit http://amex.co/spendsave for an archive of consumer spending & saving data across a variety of topics.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card.

About Ebiquity, Plc.

Ebiquity provides independent data-driven insights to global media, marketing and communications professionals to continuously improve clients’ business performance. This includes specialized services in research supporting creative testing, brand/advertising tracking, corporate reputation, brand image, research for public relations and thought leadership, global media/social media content analysis, and communications research. Ebiquity acquired Echo Research in May 2011 and Echo officially started conducting business under the Ebiquity name on July 1, 2013. Learn more at Ebiquity.com.

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