The November poll hosted on the NFCC website, www.DebtAdvice.org, revealed that 40 percent of respondents do not intend to spend any money on holiday purchases, as they anticipate experiencing further financial distress in the future.
The poll sends a strong signal that in spite of the increase in sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a significant number of people lack enough confidence in their financial future to begin spending, even on traditional holiday expenses. Historically, consumers have put aside their financial concerns during the holidays, even if to their detriment, and spent at some level. These figures provide a snapshot of the desperate situation in which consumers find themselves, and how seriously they are taking their situation.
Of note is the statistically significant increase reflected in the year-over-year trend. The NFCC posed the identical set of poll questions in the same month one year ago. Between November 2010 and November 2011, there was a six percentage point increase in the number of consumers who indicated they will spend zero dollars during the holiday season, evidence of the depth of the financial despair in the country.
Also disturbing is that slightly more than half of all poll respondents indicated they would cut back on holiday spending, as their financial situation is worse this year than last. Combining those who will cut back on spending with those who will not spend at all, a full 91 percent of consumers are clearly concerned enough about their financial circumstances that they will remain on the spending sidelines this holiday season.
Looking at the two categories with the lowest responses, seven percent revealed that they will spend as they did in 2010, and a modest three percent will spend more than they did last year. Consumers are doing themselves a disservice if they do not reach out to a legitimate credit counseling agency for help surviving these difficult economic times, as there may be solutions available that have not been considered.
For professional assistance regarding your financial questions, consider an appointment with a certified consumer credit counselor at an NFCC Member Agency. To be automatically connected to the agency closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227, or to locate a counselor online go to www.DebtAdvice.org. For assistance in Spanish, dial (800) 682-9832.
The November poll question and results are as follows:
This holiday season I will…
A. Spend as I did last year because my financial life is stable = 7% (2010 = 7%)
B. Cut back on spending, since I am worse off financially this year = 51% (2010 = 57%)
C. Spend more than last year because I am in a better financial position = 3% (2010 = 2%)
D. Not spend at all, because I anticipate further financial distress = 40% (2010 = 34%)
Note: The NFCC’s November Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC website (www.DebtAdvice.org) from November 1 – 30, 2011 and was answered by 1,232 individuals.
Gail Cunningham is Vice President of Membership & Public Relations with the NFCC.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.