Budget Conscious Consumers Trimmed Holiday Spending in 2011

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American Consumer Credit Counseling poll suggests many Americans still not ready to engage in heavy buying.

“Heavy spending on holiday shopping over one or two months can negatively impact household financial health for many months or even years to come.”

Consumers with a tight grip on their finances bucked the holiday spending trend in 2011, according to a recent survey by American Consumer Credit Counseling. Many budget conscious consumers approached the 2011 holiday season more aware of spending habits, resulting in lower spending levels than in 2010.

Of 968 consumers surveyed in a recent ACCC web poll, 61 percent spent less than $500 this past holiday season, with 16 percent spending less than $100. Just 15 percent of those polled reported spending over $1,000.

Overall, 57 percent of those surveyed at ConsumerCredit.com said they spent less on holiday shopping than in 2010. Only 17 percent reported spending more than the previous year, with 26 percent saying they held their holiday shopping budgets to the same level as 2010.

“Holiday shopping is often a significant financial burden, especially for consumers struggling to make ends meet and pay down debt,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “These results speak to the spending behaviors of those who have encountered financial difficulty in the past, and suggests these consumers are utilizing financial education resources to develop and implement cost conscious spending behavior.”

The results of the ACCC web survey come as the National Retail Federation has projected an overall 3.8 percent increase in holiday spending among all U.S. consumers in 2011. In addition, the Federal Reserve also reported strong consumer spending during the holiday shopping season. That trend helped drive up consumer debt by $20.4 billion in November – the largest monthly surge in borrowing in a decade, according to the Fed.

“While many Americans are closely watching their spending even as we see signs of an improving economy, many others could be headed for trouble with excessive debt,” said Trumble. “Heavy spending on holiday shopping over one or two months can negatively impact household financial health for many months or even years to come.”

This represents the first of ACCC’s newly implemented monthly web survey initiative that polls consumers on a variety of financial education, budgeting and planning topics ranging from holiday spending to taxes and college planning and credit scores. To participate in this month's survey that asks consumers how they plan on using their tax refund please visit http://www.consumercredit.com.

ACCC’s certified and experienced counselors offer a variety of financial education, counseling and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability. These financial education programs help consumers to better understand and manage their finances. ACCC’s holiday spending poll is the first in a series of planned monthly polls related to budgeting and spending habits, intended to help consumers recognize their budgeting needs. ACCC plans to post these polls and the results on their website and Facebook page.

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial health through education, counseling, and debt management. ACCC provides individuals with practical solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC works with consumers to help them with the best plan of action to reduce their debt and regain financial stability. ACCC is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and holds an A+ rating. It is also a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.


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Krista Robinson
O'Neill and Associates
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