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Economic Confidence Rises In September, According To The Discover U.S. Spending MonitorSM

An increase in economic confidence at the end of September pushed the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor up 2.7 points to 91.3 in September, reversing a 4-month decline. The Monitor is a 5-year-old daily poll tracking economic confidence and spending intentions of nearly 8,200 consumers throughout the month. The 91.3 reported in September’s Monitor is 14.3 points higher than what was reported a year ago.
Highlights of Discover U.S. Spending Monitor Results
  July   August   September
    2012   2012   2012
Discover U.S. Spending Monitor Index   89.3   88.6   91.3
U.S. Economy Improving   28%   26%   30%
Personal Finances Improving   23%   20%   23%

More Consumers Believe Economy is on the Mend

The percent of consumers rating the U.S. economy as good or excellent increased 2 points to 13 percent from August, and those viewing it as poor remained at the same level as August at 56 percent. However, this is 10 points lower than the 66 percent of consumers who rated the economy as poor in September 2011.
  • The number of male respondents who rate the economy as poor in September declined 14 points year-over-year to 56 percent; female respondents with the same rating declined 8 points year-over-year to 56 percent.
  • Respondents expecting the economy to improve increased 4 percentage points from the prior month to 30 percent. This is also up year-over-year by 18 points.
  • Consumers with an income of greater than $75,000 had the highest percentage of any income level in September expecting the economy to improve, at 39 percent, versus 29 percent for those making between $40,000 and $75,000, and 25 percent for those making less than $40,000.

Increasingly Optimistic Views About Personal Finances After 4-Month Decline

While consumers’ current views about their personal finances remained the same as August, they were increasingly optimistic that their personal finances will improve in the month ahead.
  • 23 percent of respondents expect their personal finances to improve, an increase of 3 points from the previous month, and reversing a 4-month decline.
  • There was an increase in the number of women who expect their personal finances to get better, up 5 points from August to 23 percent. Men expecting their personal finances to improve increased 1 point during the same timeframe to 24 percent.
  • Additionally, more women believe they would be able to maintain their current lifestyle for six or more months if their current income was lost, up 5 points from August to 21 percent. Twenty-seven percent of men believe the same, a 2-point increase from last month.
  • Despite this positive outlook, little changed in how respondents currently rate their personal finances in September, with 34 percent rating their personal finances as good or excellent, equal to August, 40 percent rating them as fair, up 1 point from August, and 24 percent rating them as poor, unchanged from August.

Discretionary Spending Intentions Decline, as Household Expenses Increase

Despite the brighter economic and financial outlook from consumers, overall spending intentions declined. While 49 percent of consumers plan to spend the same next month, down 1 point from August, those planning to spend less next month increased 2 points to 19 percent.
  • 50 percent of consumers expect to spend less on discretionary entertainment expenses next month, unchanged from August, while 9 percent plan to spend more, down 1 point.
  • 48 percent expect to spend less on major personal purchases like a vacation, up 2 points from August, while only 10 percent plan to spend more, down 5 points from the prior month.
  • 48 percent plan to spend less on household improvements, unchanged from August.
  • 45 percent of consumers expect to spend more on household expenses, such as gas and groceries, in the next month, up 1 point from August. This number is also up 6 points year-over-year.

About Discover U.S. Spending Monitor

The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor SM is a monthly index of consumer spending intentions and capacity that is based on interviews with a random sample of 8,200 U.S. adults conducted at a rate of 275 per night. In addition to spending, the survey asks consumers their opinions on the U.S. economy and their personal finances. The Monitor began in May 2007 with a base index of 100. Surveys are conducted by Rasmussen Reports, an independent survey research firm (

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 home loans, private student loans, personal loans, online savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its direct banking business. 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

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