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The Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index Is A Quarterly Barometer Of Consumer Trends Based On Aggregated Cardholder Spending Data From Chase Freedom. The Trends Reflect Spending Between October And December 2012. (Graphic: Business Wire)

A sign of continued economic improvement, consumers did not hesitate to open their wallets in the last quarter of 2012. New data from the Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index reveals that consumers significantly increased expenditures on consumer electronics, toys, and books.

The Index is a quarterly barometer of consumer trends based on aggregated cardholder spending data from Chase Freedom, one of the nation’s largest mass affluent credit cards. According to the Index, year-over-year spending increased 2 percent, while quarter-over-quarter spending saw no change in Q4 2012.

“Our cardholders give us a reason to be optimistic about the economy,” said Phil Christian, general manager, Chase Freedom. “It is clear that they did not shy away from holiday spending. Yet, they prioritized their credit card spending by cutting down on some non-holiday leisure purchases such as recreational facilities, hotels, and museums.”

Chase Freedom cardholders bring in the holidays with gifts, and more gifts

While carefully monitoring their spending, cardholders were generous gift-givers this holiday season, according to the Index, which recorded significant increases in a number of retail spending categories, including books (33 percent), clothing/apparel (23 percent), and sporting goods (27 percent).

The largest quarter-over-quarter spending increases were recorded in toys and consumer electronics, two traditionally popular holiday spending categories, which increased by 81 and 65 percent, respectively. Following consumer electronics and toys was jewelry spending, which rose 49 percent, compared to the previous quarter.

“Advancements in new smartphone, tabloid, and other mobile technology clearly caused consumer electronics spending to sky rocket,” continued Christian. “The rise of consumer electronics spending in the fourth quarter is a sign that strong demand for smart phones and tablets is likely to continue in 2013, providing a boost for our economy.”

Holiday spending countered by decreases in leisure, entertainment spending

While Chase Freedom cardholders took to holiday shopping in the fourth quarter, they spent less on leisure and discretionary activities, balancing out retail spending increases and leading to no increase in overall spending compared to the third quarter of 2012.

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