Discover: Consumer Worried But Ready To Spend More

As the election passed and the fiscal cliff loomed, the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor declined 2.7 points to 95.4 in November versus October, which, the market research group said, reflected lower consumer confidence in personal finances. Still, consumers indicated that they planned more spending in December.

The percentage of consumers rating the economy of the United States as good or excellent remained the same as October, 18%, a gain of 10 percentage points from November 2011. At the same time 51% of consumers viewed the economy as poor, which actually represents an 11-point decrease from November 2011. The proportion of female respondents who rated the economy as good or excellent in November increased two percentage points to 18% compared to October even as the proportion of male respondents who rated the economy as good or excellent slipped three percentage points to also match the overall 18% number.

In a repeat of a Monitor high from last month, 35% of respondents said they expect the economy to improve, a 16-point advantage over November 2011.

Consumers with an income of greater than $75,000 and those making between $40,000 and $75,000 reported a decline in economic improvement expectations, down two percentage points to 44% and down one percentage point to 34% respectively from October. However, the proportion of consumers making less than $40,000 who felt the economy was getting better gained three percentage points to 31%.

As they prepared for the holidays, 39% of consumers planned to increase their spending in December, nine percentage points more than consumers polled in October planned for November. In December, 12% of consumers also plan on increasing their discretionary personal spending such as going out to dinner and the movies, up three percentage points from last month. However, 46% of consumers plan to offset additional discretionary spending in other areas by cutting back on major expenditures such as vacations, up one percentage point from October. In another trade off, 9% of consumers expect to spend less on household expenses, up two percentage points, and 49% on household improvements, up two points from October.

As for frugality, 42% of respondents intend to save or invest less in December, up four percentage points from the figure for November.